Apple could expect to shift six million units of a smaller iPad in a single quarter were it to bring the device to market before Christmas, an influential industry analyst forecasts.
The electronics giant is widely tipped to launch a so-called iPad Mini to see off the challenge to its tablet market dominance from the Google Nexus 7 and a mooted follow-up to the Amazon Kindle Fire.
According to Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, Apple would benefit most from releasing the iPad Mini in the run-up to Christmas, rather than sticking to its now-established March iPad refresh cycle.
He said: "We believe this implies that Apple could sell 4-6 million smaller iPads in the December quarter, assuming a holiday launch.
"If the launch occurs in [Q4] we believe the smaller iPad would add about one per cent to revenue and [earnings per share] in December."
Munster forecasts Apple will price the iPad Mini at about $299, which ought to equate to about £299 if it follows its usual wallet-stripping dollars-to-pounds pricing policy, and will equip the slate with 16GB of on board memory.
The iPad Mini, which has been mooted for years, is also expected to feature a 7.85-inch screen, though most likely not of the high-density retina display variety and a dual-core processor.