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Friday, October 08, 2010, 12:45 pm PT (03:45 pm ET)

Apple developed 7-inch iPad alongside current model - rumor

Apple developed a smaller, 7-inch version of the iPad, but eventually only released a larger 9.7-inch model this year, according to a new rumor.

Citing anonymous sources, Jim Dalrymple of The Loop said this week that Apple has had a 7-inch iPad in its internal labs for some time. The hardware was allegedly developed alongside the original iPad, but Apple decided not to release the smaller model.

Recent rumors have suggested Apple is working on a 7-inch iPad, but Dalrymple suggested instead that Apple isn't "working" on one — "it's already done," he said.

"Why did Apple choose to go with the larger model instead? Only Steve Jobs knows that for sure," he said. "Perhaps Apple didn't want comparisons to the iPhone or iPod touch. Even though those comparisons were made with the larger iPad, they would have been even more prevalent with a 7-inch model."

He also surmised that Apple "doesn't have to" release the 7-inch model, even as competitors like Samsung are betting on a 7-inch device as a potential market. Simply put, the strong initial success of the iPad means there's no need for Apple to rush out a new model.

"The iPad is one of the best selling devices in history," Dalrymple said. "Why would Apple need to release a smaller version to compete in a market it owns. It doesn't."

If recent reports are correct, Apple could be looking to release a 7-inch version of the iPad in 2011. Publications in the Far East have indicated that the device would be smaller and lighter than the current model, making it more appealing for e-reading.