It's official. Apple will host a press event on Oct. 23 to announce -- what?

There have been reports recently that the technology giant would hold an event on that date, but no press invitations had shown up and no confirming statement had been issued. Expectations were that, if Apple was intending to show something new in October, it had to be before Oct. 26, when Microsoft's formal launch of its Windows 8 platform would dominate technology news. The consensus of speculation now that the date is confirmed is that Apple has an iPad Mini waiting to be unveiled on Oct. 23.

'A Little More'

The press invitation shows the top half of the Apple logo against an iridescent background, with "We've got a little more to show you" at the bottom. Does "little more" refer to a little iPad, a smaller Mac or MacBook Pro, or none of the above? For Apple's press events, cryptic is usually the required language.

An iPad Mini, according to news reports, is expected to have a 7.85-inch display, a 1024x768 resolution, and be aimed primarily at Amazon's Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet and Google's Nexus 7 -- media-consumption devices that are about the same size and that have carved out a "small tablet" niche.

A German site, Flo's Weblog, has posted a photograph of what it says is a spreadsheet with iPad Mini models and pricing, starting at $250 for an 8 GB Wi-Fi version and $350 for a cellular one, possibly LTE.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg News, Reuters and others reported that an Oct. 23 event was planned, based on unnamed sources "familiar with the plans." The Reuters story included a report from an unnamed Wall Street analyst who said he had an opportunity to play with a iPad Mini prototype when he visited component suppliers in Asia.

'Like a Glove'

The analyst described it as a 7.85-inch device that "fit our hands like a glove," and added that it was easily tucked into a sports coat pocket. There have also been sightings of an iPad Mini case, available in various colors, showing up on China's largest B2B e-commerce site, Alibaba.com.

While an iPad Mini is expected by many industry observers, there's also talk it could be accompanied by a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, a little brother to the 15-inch version unveiled in June, and possibly new Mac Minis.

Because Apple's event will be closely followed by Microsoft's, and because Microsoft will most likely show Windows 8 and RT tablets, including its own Surface model, it's possible that the normal hoopla that trails for days or weeks after an Apple event will be more muted than usual.

If Apple does release an iPad in the 7-inch range, it's not yet known if the ghost of Steve Jobs will be smiling or frowning. The late Apple co-founder had dismissed the 7-inch tablet form factor as being unwieldy, and added that such devices should be accompanied by sandpaper so that owners could file down their fingers. But later Apple internal communications have indicated that Jobs eventually warmed up to the idea.