A seven-inch version of the Apple iPad is to hit shops before Christmas, according to a report by Taiwanese media.

The Economic Daily News, a Chinese newspaper-language newspaper based in Taiwan, is claiming that a smaller version of the Apple iPad (we are going out on a limb and calling it the iPad 2) is already in pre-production and could be this year's surprise Christmas hit.

Christmas release?

The article, according to Macworld, states that a number of Taiwanese companies have won the rights to develop components for the Apple iPad 2, with Chimei Innolux supplying a seven-inch screen which utilises the same in-plane switching technology the iPad uses. Currently the iPad has a 9.7-inch screen.

The Economic Daily News is also stating that Compal Electronics have been enlisted to assemble the iPad 2.

Given Apple's track record for major releases, a Christmas release does seem doubtful. If the rumours about a smaller iPad are true, then it is more likely that the company is getting its stuff together early for next year's WWDC in June.

Saying that, the Economic Daily News has a decent track record in predicting Apple-related releases.

It was one of the first to rightly note that Apple was working on a tablet device in the first place.

Via MacWorld