Apple introduced its heavily
anticipated iPad computers Tuesday, hoping to extend the dominance of
its line of tablet computers in the upcoming holiday season.
Apple also introduced a fourth-generation iPad, boasting improved wireless connectivity, including LTE capabilities, and a more powerful processor than the third-generation iPad it introduced just six months ago.
Apple has sold over 100 million iPads since the tablets were announced two years ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook said at a media event in San Jose.
Apple is facing growing competition from the likes of Google, Amazon and Microsoft in the tablet market, especially from 7-inch tablets which are smaller and less expensive than the standard 9.7-inch iPad.
The screen of the iPad mini measures 7.9 inches diagonally, but according to Apple offers over 40 per cent more screen area than competitors' 7-inch tablets. Customers in the US will be able to start ordering the new device on Friday with prices starting at 329 dollars - over 100 dollars more than the starting price of Google's Nexus 7, which sells for 199 dollars. Google is expected to announce a new version of its tablet on Friday as well as a 10-inch tablet in conjunction with Samsung.
The fourth-generation iPad also goes on sale Friday for a starting price of 499 dollars. Apple will continue to offer the iPad 2 for 399 dollars but will kill off the iPad 3 introduced earlier this year.
In one of the company's biggest product launches ever, Apple also unveiled a new 13-inch Macbook Pro selling for 1699 dollars and a new version of the iMac all-in-one desktop computer starting at 1299 dollars that features a so-called Fusion Drive that combines a flash drive with a regular optical drive to maximise storage space and performance.
"Apple has done a good job here. They understand that one size doesn't fit all - consumers are willing to pay more to be part of the Apple ecosystem," said analyst Michael Gartenberg of the research company Gartner. "The line up, including the new iPad 4, puts Apple in a very strong position for the holidays."
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