Forbes called for an October 10 iPad mini media event and missed, forcing author Philip Elmer-DeWitt to apologize, writing “I don’t know what I was doing in the rumor business in the first place”. Then, John Paczkowski of the Wall Street Journal-owned AllThingsD blog set another date for the elusive iPad mini announcement.

Paczkowski, who is rarely wrong about these things, said Apple would hold a media event to announce the smaller iPad at an intimate Cupertino Town Hall presser next Tuesday, October 23 (and Reuters concurs). Spoiling Microsoft’s Surface party, Apple just issued invites to select members of the press.

A departure from past events, this one will be held next Tuesday, October 23 in San Jose’s California Theatre rather than San Francisco or at Apple’s Cupertino campus. The event is scheduled to take place at 10am Pacific and iDownloadBlog will provide around the clock coverage to keep you updated with everything related to Apple’s announcements.

The invitation graphics leaves little room for doubt: Apple is about to unveil a smaller, inexpensive iPad, as suggested by its tagline which reads “We’ve got a little more to show you”. If I wanted to be cynical, I’d say that a product everyone has virtually known about for months ends up being the biggest tech story of the day. Hey, this is Apple…

As has become customary in past few months, The Loop‘s Jim Dalrymple first reported on Apple’s invitation.

Leaked price points and stock-keeping units (SKU) indicate that the iPad mini may be available in four storage capacities (8, 16, 32 and 64GB), two colors (black & satin and white & silver) and three connectivity flavors (WiFi, 3G GSM and 3G CDMA).

Here’s the invitation graphics.

Some watchers speculate Apple could also refresh the iPad 3 with Lightning I/O and support for more 4G LTE bands used across Europe.

In all, we are expecting 24 different SKUs of the iPad mini.

And here’s San Jose’s California Theatre.

Definitely a nice place to launch the iPad mini, no?

Over the past few weeks it became clear that both the supply chain and accessory makers are ready for the iPad mini. The device will apparently outshine the third-generation iPad as Apple may have changed its round shape design last minute, reportedly frustrating component suppliers.

Asymco analyst Horace Dediu tweeted this handy iOS product matrix list, including the iPad mini SKUs.

The chart assumes unlocked and untaxed price in the US. iPad mini prices are estimated.

According to the rumor-mill, the presser may also see Apple take the wraps off a revamped iMac with a tear-drop shaped ultra-thin body and a brand new (and pricier) 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. News regarding iBooks could reportedly mark a heavy focus of the iPad mini segment, suggesting Apple is looking to market the iPad mini as an affordable tool in education.

The Guardian newspaper reported recently that Apple will, at least initially, offer WiFi-only iPad mini to keep the costs down, but a leaked price list from a German retailer suggests both WiFi and cellular version will be offered from the onset, each in 8, 16, 32 and 64 gigabyte storage flavors (and likely two colors, black probably more prone to scratches).

Additional SKUs suggest there might be WiFi, 3G and 4G LTE (or perhaps Thunderbolt) options available.

We are expecting price points in the $249-$299 range, a $49-$99 premium over Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, both starting at just $199.

Apple’s previous-generation iPod touch is a $199 value so having the iPad mini cost the same wouldn’t make much sense.