Apple signals Christmas tablet war with new iPad launches: Company sticks to its premium pricing strategy: iPad Air and iPad mini retina added to lineup
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Apple acted to fend off increasing competition in the tablet computer market yesterday by introducing the iPad Air - a lighter, thinner, faster update of its high-end tablet, priced at pounds 399.
With the computing group facing cut-price challenges from the likes of Google and Amazon - and, in the UK, devices from retailers Tesco and Argos - Apple's pre-Christmas launch saw the company stick to a premium product, and premium price, strategy.
Apple also unveiled a new version of its smaller iPad mini, with its high-resolution "retina" display, priced at pounds 319 and called somewhat literally the iPad mini retina. Both iPads will be on sale on 1 November.
Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, attempted to dismiss the growing threat from rivals fighting for consumer attention, saying: "Everyone seems to be making a tablet, even some of the doubters. But regardless of what you might hear or read . . . iPad is used a lot more."
"These new iPads underline Apple's dominance of the premium tablet market," said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight. "Apple seems determined to disrupt Microsoft's business model. Apple's strength in hardware is allowing it to make free updates to its OS X operating system and offer its iLife suite free of charge with new devices. That's a real headache for Microsoft, whose business model for Windows and Office depends on licence fees and upgrade charges."
Jason Kingsley, CEO of games developer Rebellion and chairman of UK Games Industry trade body Tiga, said: "This was more evolution than revolution from a company that manages to produce stylish new products annually."
Earlier this month Reuters warned that there was a risk Apple may not deliver the new gadgets in time for Christmas, because of manufacturing delays. Cook, appearing to rebut those reports, said: "But we couldn't be prouder to present all of them to you in time for the holidays."
Speaking at the launch event in California, Cook resorted to history to justify his company's competitive prospects, noting that the iPad had sold 170m units, which he said was "four times more than all of those other tablets put together, and this is what is important to us, because when you make a great product . . . this is how you know it, because people use it and, even more important, people love it."
Apple will have to contend with competing offerings in the shape of Google's pounds 199 Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire, plus the pounds 120 Hudl from supermarket group Tesco and Argos's pounds 100 MyTablet. The firm's response was to drop the price of the year-old iPad mini to pounds 249.
Tablet sales are expected to boom in the runup to Christmas - so much so that research firms reckon they will outsell PCs worldwide during this period. IDC estimates that a total of 84.1m tablets will be sold, against 83.1m PCs - which have seen sliding sales for more than a year.
The first iPad mini has become the world's bestselling tablet, even though Apple has seen its share of the market eroded in past months. In the second quarter, iPad sales fell to 14.6m, from 17m a year ago - though the previous year had included the launch of a new retina iPad. This pushed Apple's overall share of the tablet market down to 39%.
Microsoft and Nokia also unveiled new tablets yesterday. Microsoft refreshed its Surface line, including the RT version, which has seen such poor sales that the company had to write off $900m of unsold tablets in July, and admitted it had only sold $833m worth.
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]