In the tablet market, the iPad is still the undisputed leader. One of the ways that Apple retained that status was this year's introduction of a lower-priced iPad 2. Though its US$400 price tag is still enough to buy two Kindle Fires, it let Cupertino at least approach budget tablet territory. With next week's launch of a smaller iPad, though, we may soon bid farewell to the iPad 2.

That's the theory postulated by Evercore Partners' analyst Rob Cihra. He shot out a note to investors this week forecasting the iPad 2's doom. His rationale? Apple's broader vision calls for a clutter-free product line, so the redundant iPad 2 would get the axe.

Out with the old

An iPad Mini (Air?) could push the iPad 2 out of the picture

We can't argue with this logic. Apple's success is built on streamlined simplicity and focus. Selling three different iPads – each with multiple colors and wireless capabilities – could lead to clutter. If the iPad Mini (or iPad Air?) starts at between US$200-300, that's inching closer to the $400 iPad 2. Carrying two iPads – the big premium one and the smaller cheaper one – may be all Apple needs.

We'd still take Cihra's prediction with grains of salt, and place the safe money on the iPad 2 hanging around until March. But if you're itching to get a full-sized iPad for no more than $400, you might want to act now. Should his advice prove sound, the iPad 2 will only have a few more days to live.

Source: Apple Insider