As news buzzes with Apple iPad 3 release speculation and rumors about features there's a new report that Apple is likely to launch a mini iPad in late 2012.

DigiTimes reports that Apple will release the anticipated iPad 3 at the end of the first quarter of 2012 and follow that up a new mini iPad before the fourth quarter of 2012. The news site reports the mini iPad will have a 7.85-inch touchscreen, according to "sources in the supply chain."

"Global shipments of tablet PCs are expected to reach 60 million units in 2011, of which 70% will be Apple's iPads. To cash in on market demand as well as market expectations, Apple is expected to release its next-generation iPads at the end first-quarter 2012, said the sources,"pple DigitTimes reported Friday.

Apple's iPad, launched in 2010, is the global leader, but Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet has been gaining ground since launching in November. Price is one advantage, considering the Kindle Fire pricing starts at $199 while iPad pricing starts at $499. But size also seems to be an advantage, according to reviews. The Kindle Fire has a 7-inch touchscreen, while the iPad has a 10-inch touchscreen.

"However, in order to cope with increasing market competition including the 7-inch Kindle Fire from Amazon and the launch of large-size smartphones from handset vendors, Apple has been persuaded into the development of 7.85-inch iPads, the sources indicated," according to DigiTimes.