Apple has reportedly ordered up 10 million panels for its as-yet unannounced and unconfirmed iPad mini, a rumored 7.8(ish)-inch tablet.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported from Taipei that unnamed Apple suppliers have received the large orders for the tablet screen – approximately twice what Amazon placed for the Kindle Fire in the same quarter.

The report follows a similar dispatch from the Taiwanese tech site Digitimes, which has a mixed track record when it comes to culling accurate information out of Apple’s Asian supply chain.

In its report last Thursday, the site said that “unnamed sources” within the supply chain indicated that Apple is expected to ship 9 to 10 million units of the tablet in the fourth quarter.

Apple, which generally doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation, could not immediately be reached for comment on the WSJ report.

Everything about the iPad mini — from its likely price point to its actual existence — comes from a series of rumors about Apple’s leap into the smaller tablet market.

The tablet, if it exists, is expected to come in at a price point lower than Apple’s full 9.7-inch tablet, though likely a bit above the $199 price point of the Kindle Fire and Galaxy Nexus 7. Or, to put it another way, above the price of the iPod Touch.

MacRumors reported that the smaller iPad is not expected to sport the same A6 chip that’s in the iPhone 5, but rather a different version of the A5 chip currently powering the iPad 2.

A smaller Apple tablet is expected to sell well — even though the company is a bit late to the market — and help Apple’s slipping but still dominant numbers in the world tablet market. The company’s marketshare, according to IDC’s second-quarter report, is 68 percent. A couple of years ago, Apple’s share was over 80 percent, showing that Android tablets — as a whole — are making steady headway.

The competition could get rougher headed into the holiday season, with Microsoft and its manufacturers releasing their lineup of new tablets running Windows 8 and Windows RT. Amazon, of course, has also refreshed its tablet line with a full-sized Kindle Fire — which spells fiercer competition for Apple’s iPad.

The iPad mini could take its first steps out of the vaporware category this week: Invitations to an iPad launch event are expected to go out Wednesday, according to a report from Fortune.

Using Apple’s past actions as a guide, an Oct. 10 invitation would likely point to an event the following week. Sales, then, would likely start sometime in early November — if they start at all.

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