) -- Tech land was


to get an invite for the iPad Mini launch from


(AAPL) - Get Report

earlier this week. It didn't happen. Now it looks like this may happen next week.

Tech news website



that Apple will likely showcase its newest device on Oct. 23, just two days before earnings. Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but


(MSFT) - Get Report

is launching its Surface tablet just three days later, on Oct. 26.

The launch venue is not yet known, but


speculated it will be Apple's Town Hall Auditorium, a much more intimate setting than San Francisco's cavernous Moscone Center, which is often used for Apple product launches. Apple has held other events at its Town Hall Auditorium in the past, namely last year's iPhone 4S launch.

This year's launches of the new iPad and the iPhone 5, in March and September, respectively, were held in San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, another relatively small venue.

Apple is reportedly entering the smaller tablet market to hold onto market share. The tech giant holds 68% of the tablet market, according to


. Apple is looking to defend its turf against the likes of


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Barnes & Noble

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, which all launched smaller tablets recently.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD Fizzles Out: Review

Retailers such as

Best Buy

(BBY) - Get Report

have been

prepping shelves

for the iPad Mini with accessory display cases.

The tablet is expected to have a screen size of 7.85-inches, while the larger iPad has a 9.7-inch screen. It will look very similar to the larger iPad. Pricing for the device is not yet known, though many believe Apple will price the iPad Mini competitively with other smaller tablets, perhaps as low as $299.

In the past, Apple has sent out invites to events 7 or 8 days before major announcements, so these may appear next Monday or Tuesday. The world will be watching its inboxes for hints of Apple's "one more thing" in 2012.

Interested in more on Apple? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for

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Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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