Apple unveils new Macs, iPad ahead of holidays [Virginian - Pilot]
(Virginian - Pilot Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By Michael Liedtke and Barbara Ortutay
The Associated Press
Apple Inc. is refreshing its iPad lineup and slashing the price of its Mac computers ahead of the holiday shopping season as it faces an eroding tablet market share and growing competition from rival gadget makers.
Apple unveiled a thinner, lighter tablet called the iPad Air, along with a slew of new Macs on Tuesday at an event in San Francisco. The iPad Air weighs 1 pound, compared with 1.4 pounds for the previous version. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller called the tablet a "screaming fast iPad" that is eight times faster than the original, which came out in 2010.
The iPad Air will go on sale Nov. 1 and start at $499 for a model with 16 gigabytes of memory. Apple plans to phase out its third- and fourth-generation iPads while the iPad 2, which launched in 2011, continues selling at $399. A new iPad Mini, meanwhile, will be available later in November and start at $399 for a 16-gigabyte model. It has a Retina display designed to give it a clearer picture and the same 64-bit chip that powers the iPad Air.
"I think today was about re-establishing that the iPad is the benchmark for what a good tablet experience should be," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst for research firm Gartner Inc.
The iPad's market share has been eroding against cheaper rivals running Google Inc.'s Android operating system. Gartner estimates that Android tablets will end 2013 with a 50 percent share of the worldwide market versus 49 percent for the iPad. Just two years ago, the iPad commanded a 65 percent market share compared with 30 percent for Android tablets.
Tim Bajarin, a Creative Strategies analyst who's followed Apple for more than three decades, said the 64-bit chip in the new iPads makes them the most powerful tablets on the market. Keeping the iPad 2 on store shelves also makes sense, according to the analyst.
"That's the one that's a big hit in Asia and emerging markets," Bajarin said. "It's still got a lot of traction."
Apple also refreshed its computer lineup. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is thinner and lighter, Schiller said, adding that the laptop has up to nine hours of battery life. The notebook's new price is lower: $1,299, compared with $1,499 for the previous version.
The MacBook Pro with a 15-inch monitor and 256 gigabytes of storage starts at $1,999, compared with $2,199 for the previous version.
The Mac Pro, a high-end desktop computer aimed at what Apple calls "power users," will be available in December for $2,999.
The company also said its latest computer operating system, Mavericks, is available free of charge.
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