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Apple unveils new iPads amid crowded product market

By Adam Satariano
Bloomberg News

Apple introduced new iPads on Tuesday, coming in time for holiday shoppers, as it battles to stay ahead of rivals in the increasingly crowded market for tablet computers.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook debuted a new iPad mini with a high-definition screen, as well as a thinner and lighter design for the larger iPad named the iPad Air. The iPad Air goes on sale on Nov. 1, starting at $499.

The iPad mini will be available later in November starting at $399, higher than the previous model’s starting price of $329.

“This is just the beginning for iPad,” Cook said to a crowd of media and technology industry insiders at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in downtown San Francisco. “We have been busy working on the next generation of iPad.”

In the year since Apple last updated the iPad, companies including Samsung Electronics, Asustek Computer, Google and Amazon have unveiled new tablets, often at lower prices. The competition adds pressure to Apple because the iPad is its second-largest source of revenue after its flagship iPhone. Success of the new models will be critical as the company attempts to reignite revenue growth, which has slowed.

Apple also introduced new Mac software, called Mavericks, which is available free. The company showed an updated, high-end Mac Pro desktop computer aimed at professions that need extra computing power, such as graphic design and film editing, as well as new MacBook Pro laptops.

“We still believe deeply in this category and we’re not slowing down on our innovations” in Macs, said Cook.

Apple previously released new iPhones — the iPhone 5s and 5c — last month.

More than three years after Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, the growth of the global tablet market is showing signs of decelerating. Tablet shipments are projected to increase 28 percent in 2014 to 301 million units, after doubling in 2012, according to Counterpoint Research.

Competitors are cutting into Apple’s lead. The company’s tablet market share slid to 32 percent in the second quarter, compared to 60 percent a year earlier, according to research firm IDC.

Samsung, Asustek, Lenovo, Acer and others are offering devices with prices starting at less than half of the iPad mini’s previous starting cost of $329. Amazon introduced new Kindle Fires last month with higher-resolution screens at prices starting from $229, while Microsoft Corp. and Nokia Oyj took the wraps off new tablets this week.

Companies are trying to adjust to what Jobs called the “post PC” era, where preferences have shifted to mobile devices rather than personal computers.


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