If you believe the rumor-mill, smaller iPads have been spotted at Apple. And if you believe the usually  cred§ible Wall Street Journal, Apple’s in fact been developing a shrunken iPad to address the low-to-mid range of the market. And with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and now Google’s Nexus 7 tablet fighting for these customers, no wonder the iPad mini rumors are beginning to surface all over again…

UnwiredView relays a story by Chinese-language MyDrivers which quotes various analysts and industry sources who speculate that a 7.85-inch device will feature a screen made by Sharp and incorporating their IGZO panel technology.

IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) technology incorporates a thin-film transistor that allows for thinner devices while reducing power consumption and increasing image quality.

And if Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White is right, Apple will launch a smaller iPad this fall.

While it’s easy to dismiss the iPad mini as yet another made up meme, it’s worth pointing out that big media such as The Wall Street Journal is now claiming that Apple is developing such a device.

People seem to be torn over it.

For example, our Cody Lee has a problem with the $249 price tag which would leave Apple with little margin (the company’d margins are famously the envy of the industry).

Then again, economies of scale and that Foxconn’s investment into Sharp’s cutting-edge display plant help Apple turn a profit on even a 50 percent cheaper iPad. Don’t forget that Apple also makes money (30 percent) whenever iPad customers click that Buy button in one of the stores to buy music, apps, movies, e-books and what not.

Also, Apple played this game doing with both the iPod and iPhone. First they had introduced these devices at high price points, but later they worked their way down until hitting the sweat spot when sales really took off.

I’m interested to hear your opinion on the iPad mini.

Can a smaller $249 iPad spoil the party for Amazon and Google and launch Apple’s device into the stratosphere?