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iPad mini makes it harder for Microsoft

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Garry Barker in San Jose

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Apple unveils new iPad Mini

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller announces much-anticipated iPad Mini during Apple's special event at the California Theatre.

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San Jose, California: With the launch today of the iPad mini, Apple raised the bar in its battle with tablet rivals Samsung, Google and Amazon.

It also stole the thunder that Microsoft hoped to generate at the release three days from now of the Surface, its belated bid for a place in the fiercely competitive worldwide tablet market that is changing the face of computing for consumers and businesses alike.

Apple's iPad mini ... shown during a media hands on.

Apple's iPad mini ... shown during a media hands on.

Apple had a gap in its armour with no offering in the smaller-format tablet sector that Amazon's Kindle Fire and the recently arrived Google Nexus 7 have until now dominated, and which consumers have shown they like. The iPad mini is a little larger than the Android offerings, but still comfortable in one hand, lighter and slimmer and – a powerful selling point – fully compatible with all iPad apps and the wider Apple ecosystem embracing iPads, iPhones and Mac computers. The iPad mini format also offers better screen display of web pages and videos.

Like its big brother iPad, the mini is encased in anodised aluminium, where the Androids are plastic, and is made with the attention to design and quality of construction that is Apple's hallmark.

But while the iPad mini was centre of anticipation before today's event in the historic California Theatre in San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley, it was just one of four announcements made by chief executive Tim Cook. "We're not taking our foot off the gas," said the leader of the world's most valuable company.

The MacBook Pro with Retina Display now comes in both 15-inch (left) and 13-inch models. Click for more photos

Apple launches the iPad mini

Apple unveils the iPad mini - a 7.9-inch tablet that is 23 per cent thinner and 53 per cent lighter than the third generation iPad. 

Also announced were a new and more powerful full-sized fourth generation iPad, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display notebook computer and, biggest surprise, an all-new sleeker, slimmer, more powerful line of desktop iMac computers. The 13-inch MacBook Pro has been Apple's bestselling notebook. Now with the high definition, ultra-bright Retina Display used in the 15-inch MacBook Pro announced in June, it is set to maintain that lead.

The other point Amazon and Google will note about the iPad mini is its pricing, starting at $A369 for the basic wi-fi model, rising to $899 for the full bells and whistles model with wi-fi and 4G connectivity, 64GB of storage and the same performance and 10-hour battery life as its big brother, the fourth-generation iPad.

And, another powerful selling point, although it is smaller – a 7.9 inch diagonal screen versus the 9.7-inches of the full-sized iPad – all 275,000 apps specifically built for the big iPad will work just as well on the mini. The screens have the same pixel count, so app developers do not need to rewrite their code for the new smaller format.

For Microsoft, which analysts have criticised for allowing Apple and Google to seize and dominate the mobile, touchscreen market, the Apple announcements present a considerable challenge.

On Friday, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer will define his daring experiment to breathe new life into the flagging Windows PC environment. Windows 8 has been out in beta form for several months and has gained some kudos, but with it and the Surface, and presumably a line of third-party Windows 8 compatible notebooks and desktop machines, Microsoft hopes to convince customers, even in the corporate world, that touch can be wedded to keyboards and mice.

The world is embracing mobility in computing. Can Microsoft rejuvenate sagging global demand for desktop PCs? Most PCs are in business offices. Will companies, many strapped for cash and growth by the global financial woes, adopt Ballmer's strategy and spend on new machines and new software?

So far the jury is out. The Microsoft-Nokia smartphone was admired by technical types, but has failed to gain significant share of a market dominated by Apple and Android.

Analysts still wonder if Microsoft's $US8.5 billion acquisition of Skype and its $US1.5 billion spent to buy Facebook wannabe Yammer will pay off. In the 2012 fiscal year, ended on June 30, Microsoft showed an operating loss in its online services division (search engine Bing, MSN and online advertising engine aQuantive), of $US8.1 billion for the 2012 fiscal year ended June 30. In the first quarter of this financial year a further $384 million was lost.

Clearly a very great deal hangs on Windows 8 and the Surface, and Apple just made it harder.

Garry Barker travelled to San Jose as a guest of Apple.

103 comments

  • Apple just made it harder??? Oh please! I work in IT and have for many years. IT illiterates have no clue about how easy it is to hack an Apple device. This is pure media hype. I have an Amazon Kindle which I would not swap for a mini Apple thingy. If I had to choose between having a Windows Surface tablet or Apple mini, I'd go Windows simply because they have built in encryption and security and Apple.. well, when and if they get it right which they haven't yet. I prefer to use the device how I want to, and not be dictated to or forced to shop in only one place (eg iTunes) and what I buy I own.. not I buy and have only "LOANED" it like Apple do to you.

    Commenter
    You're kidding right
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    October 24, 2012, 1:51PM
    • you can always jailbreak it if you don't like iTunes store. you work in IT right?

      Commenter
      Andreu
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 3:03PM
    • "Apple thingy" ... the silly notion that Surface has some kind of magic "built in encryption and security" that iOS does not ... the ignorance of the ability of iTunes, iPhones, iPods and Macs to play widely-sourced music, including mp3s ... and finally, the flatly wrong idea that music from iTunes is "loaned"; in fact, iTunes *sells* music, it does not currently offer a subscription service.

      Your self-declared experience in IT does not appear to have provided you with any knowledge about the subject whatsoever. Every single comment you made is demonstrably false.

      Commenter
      Vanilla
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 3:39PM
    • @Vanilla - You might want to read the small print on Apples Digital rights agreement before you assume that you own and can do what you want with the digital media purchased from Itunes. It is not a subscription service as you rightly state but you don't have full rights either.

      Also, why would you pay $A369 for an Ipod Mini when you can get a 10" android tablet for about the same price now that is not locked down by default so doesn't need to be jail breaked to allow you to do what you want with it?

      Commenter
      Pear
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 5:30PM
    • YKR: "If I had to choose between having a Windows Surface tablet or Apple mini, I'd go Windows..." So you're not buying the Surface. Microsoft's tablet will surface, sink and settle at the bottom. We'll buy the new Mini, along with millions of other satisfied Apple consumers who aren't struggling for a new breath of life from a dying windozed culture.

      Commenter
      Travs
      Location
      WA
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 7:28PM
    • @Vanilla

      iTunes does not sell but only grant you, and only you, the right to access the song from a device like an iPhone for example. Say if you pass away and want to leave your music collection to your children/spouse then you are violating your user agreement and Apple can prevent the transfer of the songs.

      This was covered in an Age article earlier in the year. Please adjust your understanding of ownership in line with Apple policy please.

      Commenter
      SQW
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 24, 2012, 8:13PM
    • @Vanilla
      If you buy something you then should have the right to pass it on to someone else as a gift, or resell it. Music bought from iTunes doesn't allow this. It is tied to you. Effectively you have loaned it from Apple and they charged you for the privilege.

      Commenter
      CW
      Date and time
      October 25, 2012, 1:12AM
    • What are you on about? "Loan"? If you've never used itunes, and have this misconception of Apple "loaning" you music, are you sure you work in IT? People "buy" music, not "loan".

      Commenter
      dingding
      Location
      Pertth
      Date and time
      October 25, 2012, 1:12AM
    • @Vanilla, well said. Totally agree.

      Commenter
      iRoger
      Date and time
      October 25, 2012, 6:47AM
    • Would you use a mobile banking app on a jailbroken device? Did you rememeber to change your root password?

      Commenter
      Duncan
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      October 25, 2012, 8:01AM

More comments

Comments are now closed

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Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller announces much-anticipated iPad Mini during Apple's special event at the California Theatre.

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