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Apple iPadRumors of a 7-inch iPad from Apple just won’t die. Now it’s Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw, who’s fanning the rumor flames based on conversations with Apple suppliers, Bloomberg reports.

We reported on the possibility of a 7-inch iPad in September, based on information from an iLounge inside source. Apple has apparently been developing prototype devices in that size for some time, so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the company roll out with a smaller iPad to complement its current 9.7-inch version.

Kumar says that Apple may want to compete with smaller 7-inch tablets like Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Tab, which runs Google’s Android mobile operating system. While the iPad is only a few inches larger, that increased size also makes the device heavier, and less portable, than something like the Galaxy Tab. A smaller iPad may also be a way for Apple to combat the Kindle and other e-readers, which are better suited for prolonged reading due to their lighter weight.

Kumar also points out that Apple will have to catch up to Samsung when it comes to video conferencing — an assessment he likely included in case the 7-inch iPad news doesn’t pan out. By this point, it’s almost guaranteed that Apple will include video conferencing capabilities on its next iPad — particularly since it just brought FaceTime video chat capabilities to the new iPod Touch.

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