Earlier this month, reports from both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg suggested that Apple is planning to launch a smaller iPad. Now, citing independent sources, the New York Times is reporting that Apple plans to launch a cheaper 7.85-inch tablet later this year.

The Times suggests that Apple's new tablet would feature a smaller, 7.85-inch screen, and that it would cost "significantly less than the latest $499 iPad". According to "people with knowledge of the project", says the Times, Apple would likely announce the device before the end of 2012.

At this point, another small iPad rumour may seem underwhelming, and of course it might still turn out to be little more than unfulfilled speculation. But, when Bloomberg, the WSJ and the NYT are all reporting the same story from different sources, that's sure as hell a lot of smoke—we'll just have to wait and see if there's any fire.

Speaking of which, elsewhere in the article, the NYT reports that "a developer briefed on Amazon's plans" has told it that Bezos and co are planning to launch a larger Kindle Fire. It's not the first time we've heard such suggestions, either.

It's gonna be interesting to see just how much of all this is true as products are launched in the second half of the year. [New York Times]