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Apple unveils new iPad Air, iPad mini

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Adam Satariano

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Apple reveals new iPad Air

RAW VISION: Apple introduces what is set to be a thinner, lighter and more powerful version of their popular iPad.

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

Apple chief executive Tim Cook debuted a new iPad mini with a high-definition "Retina" screen, as well as a thinner and lighter design for the larger iPad called the iPad Air.

Apple's new iPad Air. Click for more photos

New iPad Air, iPad mini photos

Apple unveils a thinner, lighter iPad Air and an updated iPad mini with a high-definition screen as it battles to stay ahead in the increasingly crowded tablet market. 

The iPad Air is 43 percent thinner than the version it replaces, weighs 450 grams and is "screaming fast", according to Apple's senior vice president of product marketing Phil Schiller.

Both new models use the Apple-designed A7 chip with 64-bit "desktop-class architecture", which claims to deliver "all-day battery life", Schiller said, and will come in Wi-Fi + 4G and Wi-Fi-only models.

The iPad Air goes on sale in Australia on November 1 starting at $598. The iPad mini will be available later in November starting at $479, higher than the previous model's starting price of $369.

Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the iPad Air.

Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the iPad Air.

"This is just the beginning for iPad," Cook said to a crowd of media and technology-industry insiders at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts Theatre 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, Asus, 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 Cupertino, California-based company attempts to reignite revenue growth, which has slowed.

Apple also introduced new Mac software, called Mavericks, which is available for free from the Mac App Store from Wednesday. 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.

A side view of Apple's new iPad Air.

A side view of Apple's new iPad Air.

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

Tablet slowdown?

Apple is updating its products ahead of the lucrative holiday shopping season. As part of the line-up, the company released new iPhones – the iPhone 5s and 5c – last month.

Apple's new iPad Air.

Apple's new iPad Air.

Yet 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 per cent 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 per cent in the second quarter, compared to 60 per cent a year earlier, according to IDC.

Samsung, Asus, Lenovo, Acer and others are offering devices with prices starting at less than half of the iPad mini's previous starting cost of $369. Amazon introduced new Kindle Fire tablets last month with higher-resolution screens at prices starting from $US229, while Microsoft and Nokia took the wraps off new tablets overnight.

'Post PC'

Cook alluded to the competition, noting that "everybody seems to be making a tablet." He added that the iPad is used more than four times more than all other tablets put together. Apple has sold 170 million iPads, he said.

In a move to spur growth, Apple will also roll out the new iPad Air in China at the same time as other markets, said Schiller. Apple also dropped the price of last year's iPad mini model to $349.

The companies are trying to adjust to what Jobs called the "post PC" era, where preferences have shifted to mobile devices rather than personal computers. The shift has decimated the PC industry, with shipments of traditional desktops and laptops projected by Gartner to fall 11.2 per cent this year. The shift has hampered sales at Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and others.

Some rivals' tablet efforts have flopped. Microsoft took a $980 million write-down earlier this year after its Surface failed to catch on with consumers.

Apple and other tablet manufacturers are now attempting to win over new customers, beyond consumers who use the devices to browse the internet, watch videos or play games. Schools, government agencies, pharmaceutical sales forces, airlines and insurance companies are among those who have purchased thousands of tablets in lieu of traditional computers.

Bloomberg/AFP

127 comments

  • Yawn. Android tablets now outsell apple tablets - a trend that will continue to increase.

    Commenter
    Btg
    Date and time
    October 23, 2013, 6:40AM
    • Yawn. Another comment against apple.... looking forward to the new iPad

      Commenter
      andrew2105
      Date and time
      October 23, 2013, 6:49AM
    • And Ford outsells BMW. I guess that must be because Ford is a better car.

      Commenter
      MattPP
      Date and time
      October 23, 2013, 6:57AM
    • To andrew2105,
      We in education are now buying more android devices as we find they do more and are easier to connect to networks, different mail systems, access files and etc. Apple have and will always be a one person device and are designed that way. They are great little play toys but for real use lynx, Android and MS are far greater productivity than OSX.

      Commenter
      EDU IT
      Date and time
      October 23, 2013, 7:15AM
    • @mattpp - i see what you did there. Let's improve your analogy. Let's also say that Ford make 100 different models to suit all lifestyles, and BMW make 2. Build quality is the same because the parts actually come from the same manufacturer, and your can only drive BMWs on freeways.

      Commenter
      Btg
      Date and time
      October 23, 2013, 7:25AM
    • Edu IT: Android "do more" what? They do something other than run apps? And Android is "easier to connect to networks"? Clearly you're using "easier" in a whole new sense of the word. Nothing connects more easily to a network than an Apple device but I guess you mean to YOUR particular network that you set up in an enviably original way using the maximum amount of open source that happens to also need the maximum amount of your IT skills.

      Commenter
      MattPP
      Date and time
      October 23, 2013, 7:28AM
    • Double yawn.
      "iPad is used more than four times more than all other tablets put together".
      So people buy their copydroid version, see they can't do anything and put them aside. iPad users buy theirs and use them all the time.
      Nice try @Btg, but another copydroid fail.

      Commenter
      The Other Guy
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      October 23, 2013, 7:32AM
    • Lynx? You're living in the 60s, man.

      It's good to see Android becoming more useful, because generally Android isn't very useful, and that is seen in the stats that iPad's are used, and Androids are bought because they are cheap and then stuck in drawers because they don't work very well.

      Commenter
      John
      Date and time
      October 23, 2013, 7:45AM
    • EDU IT, you just confirm how bad IT are. You buy cheap garbage that no one wants. Just like you, in IT, always have.

      Commenter
      ij
      Date and time
      October 23, 2013, 7:47AM
    • I'm in education too and we use iPads without any issues. A greater range of apps available and less chance of being infected by malware.
      McDonalds sells the most burgers in the world so they must make the best food.

      Commenter
      misteree
      Date and time
      October 23, 2013, 8:05AM

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Apple employees show off the new iPad Air (R) and iPad Mini at a satellite launch event in central London on October 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT New iPad Air, iPad mini photos

Apple unveils a thinner, lighter iPad Air and an updated iPad mini with a high-definition screen as it battles to stay ahead in the increasingly crowded tablet market.

Apple reveals new iPad Air (Thumbnail) Apple reveals new iPad Air

RAW VISION: Apple introduces what is set to be a thinner, lighter and more powerful version of their popular iPad.