With the iPad 3 expected to be announced this week, the Apple rumor mill has shifted its sights to a possible release of a 7-inch "iPad mini" later this year. Although (so far incorrect) rumors of a smaller form factor iPad have been floating around for a couple of years, the latest "confirmation" comes from a pretty reputable source - Samsung.

An official-looking Samsung Securities document, provided to OLED-Display.net by an anonymous source, says that Apple has plans to launch a new 7-inch tablet, currently known as the iPad mini, in the third quarter of 2012. Although former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had previously stated that a 7-inch display was too small for a tablet device because he thought, "the screen is too small to express the software," the success of 7-inch tablet offerings from competitors, including Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire, eating into Apple's market share might have caused a rethink by the current Apple hierarchy.

The document also suggests that the Korean electronics giant is weighing up whether Apple will switch from the IPS displays it currently uses to AMOLED - either standard or flexible - for its next, next-generation iPad (iPad 4) and next generation iPhone (iPhone 5). Samsung expects numerous AMOLED tablets - including its own 7.7-inch Galaxy Tab - to be released this year, which could prompt Apple to make the switch.

Even if Apple were to switch to AMOLED panels for its next iPad models, Samsung Mobile Display would only be able to produce 54 million per year even if its 5.5G production line were fully used for tablet production, while it says Apple is reportedly aiming to sell more than 100 million iPads this year.

Source: Samsung Securities document via OLED-Display.net