In October 2010 Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, "The 7-inch tablets will be dead on arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson and abandon them for larger sizes next year, abandoning customers and developers. Sounds like a lot of fun."
It now appears that Jobs' stance on the idea softened.
That's the word from emails entered into evidence during Scott Forstall's testimony in the ongoing Apple / Samsung trial; Apple VP Eddy Cue forwarded an article about the Samsung Galaxy Tab to his team in January 2011 with a note saying "I believe there will a 7-inch market and we should do one." Cue added that he'd "expressed this to Steve several times since Thanksgiving and he seemed very receptive the last time."
The New York Times, the WSJ and Bloomberg have all reported that Apple will announce an iPad mini this year.