Good news for those of you itching to get your hands on a 7 inch Apple tablet or an Apple Television set— one of the industry’s top analysts expects you’ll see both within the year.
Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray told attendees at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen that an iPad Mini was “highly likely,” and that he had talked to manufacturers in Asia who are already supplying Apple with components for what we’re still tentatively calling the iTV.
“The TV thing is real,” Munster said. “It’s just a function of time. Some suppliers are more open in talking about it than others.”
His best guess on that timing for iTV? Probably by the end of 2012, possibly launching in 2013. Munster told that early versions of the set would probably still rely on the Apple TV set-top box, but that later versions would have it built in.
As for the 7-inch iPad Mini, Munster says it makes strong business sense for Apple to expand its product line to the low end of the market — it currently has 90% of the 10-inch tablet market, but 75% of the tablet market as a whole.
But he pointed out that it would be the first example of the company specifically reacting to its competition — from tablets such as the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 — and also the first example of it going against the wishes of its late founder Steve Jobs, who frequently dismissed the idea of a tablet smaller than 10 inches.
Fellow panelist Horace Dediu of Asymco also said he expects an iTV very soon, and that it would have a huge impact on the entire entertainment industry.
“The App-ification of TV will unleash forces we can’t imagine,” Dediu said. “Just look at what native apps like Instagram have done to the phone space.”
Munster added that an iTV would help propel Apple’s stock price from where it currently is (in the $600 range) to where he expects it to be (roughly $910).
What impact do you expect from an iPad Mini or iTV? Let us know in the comments.