Another major news organization has today published a report about the imminent launch of the fabled iPad mini. Following similar reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago, The New York Times says that Apple is intent on maintaining its hold on the tablet market with a smaller and cheaper device.

According to The New York Times:

The company is developing a new tablet with a 7.85-inch screen that is likely to sell for significantly less than the latest $499 iPad, with its 9.7-inch display, according to several people with knowledge of the project who declined to be named discussing confidential plans. The product is expected to be announced this year.

Combining such size with its projected price point, the device is unlikely to have a Retina display, which is the flagship feature of the current generation of the iPad.

Of course, it’s not difficult to realize that the iPad mini is Apple’s answer to Amazon, Google, and Microsoft’s respective 7-inch tablets.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which debuted late last year, has sold millions of units despite garnering lukewarm reviews. Google’s Nexus 7, on the other hand, has been receiving both commercial and critical success since its launch earlier this month.

Microsoft, for its part, is banking on its recent partnership with Barnes & Noble to further the book retailer’s Nook business. Apart from releasing its 10.6-inch tablet dubbed Surface, Microsoft is expected to develop the 7-inch Nook Color and Nook Tablet.

With its upcoming release all but confirmed, the iPad mini is most likely going to join the equally rumored iPhone 5 during Apple’s “crowded event” this fall. Are you excited yet?