|Apple unveils lighter, thinner, more powerful iPad Air due out November
Apple is refreshing its iPad lineup in hopes of reclaiming lost ground in the tablet market and slashing the prices of its Mac computers to intensify the pressure on the beleaguered makers of PCs running Microsoft Windows. (pictured, Apples' iPad Mini, left, and iPad Air).
Tuesday's unveiling of Apple's latest products in San Francisco primes the company for a holiday shopping season onslaught aimed at a list of rivals that includes Google, Samsung Electronics, Amazon.com and Microsoft Corp, AP reports.
A thinner, lighter and faster-running tablet computer called the iPad Air highlighted the launch. Apple also showed off a souped-up iPad Mini that boasts a faster microprocessor, a high-definition display screen and a higher price than its predecessor, AP reports.
In a surprise, Apple is introducing slightly revamped MacBook Pros at prices 9 percent to 13 percent below the previous versions. What's more, Apple is giving away its latest Mac operating system _ Mavericks _ for free, as well as several pieces of software, including programs called iWorks and iLife that provide many of the same tools as Microsoft's Office.
“We are turning the industry on its ear,'' Apple chief executive Tim Cook said of the company's strategy.
As Apple is now doing with its Mavericks software for Macs, Google gives away Android to device makers who can afford to undercut the prices for iPhones and iPads.
Despite the competitive pressure, Apple has steadfastly refused to cut prices on its top-of-the-line products.
The iPad Air will start at US$499, just like its predecessors, while the new iPad Mini will sell for US$399 _ a 21 percent increase from the price of the first Mini. The price of the original Mini, which runs at slower speeds and lacks a high-definition display screen, is falling from US$329 to US$299.
As it has done for more than year, Apple will continue selling the iPad 2 _ a tablet that came out two-and-half years ago _ for US$399.
Apple's stock dipped US$1.49 to close at US$519.87 Tuesday. The shares remain about 25 percent below their peak reached 13 months ago.
The iPad Air's main appeal is a more svelte design and a faster microprocessor, the same kind of chip in the iPhone 5S that Apple released a month ago. The new tablet weighs just 1 pound, compared with 1.4 pounds for the previous version. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller hailed it as a “screaming fast iPad,'' noting that it is eight times faster than the original model that came out in 2010.
The iPad Air will go on sale November 1. The new iPad Mini will be available at a still-to-be-determined date later in November.
Apple sold 14.6 million iPads during the three months ending in June, down 14 percent from the same time last year. It marked the first time Apple has posted a year-over-year decline in iPad sales.
Cook said Apple's total iPad sales since the device's inception surpassed 170 million units earlier this month. Given that Apple sold 155 million iPads through June, that means fewer than 15 million were sold in the quarter ending in September. Apple sold 14 million iPads in last year's quarter ending in September.