Apple Inc,facing competition,introduces a smaller iPad

Apple Inc will sell its new 7.9-inch iPad mini for $330 and up,higher than some industry observers had expected

Written by New York Times | Published: October 24, 2012 12:56:18 am

Steve Jobs once derided tablets with smaller screens,saying they would need to include sandpaper so people could sand down their fingertips to use them. But that didn’t stop his company from shrinking the iPad.

Unveiled Tuesday,Apple’s new iPad Mini is smaller and lighter than its predecessor. Its screen is 7.9 diagonal inches,making its surface area significantly smaller than the current 9.7-inch iPad. It weighs about two-thirds of a pound.

The company is selling the lowest priced Mini for $330,about $130 more than similarly sized tablets from competitors.

Apple also introduced an upgrade for its iPad,which includes a faster processor and the new Lightning connector. It also showed new laptop and desktop computers. Phil Schiller,Apple’s vice president for marketing,said the smaller,lighter tablet would be a good fit for people who want something more portable than the 1.44 pound iPad.

“The iPad is the top-selling tablet in the world,but we’re not taking our foot off the gas,” said Tim Cook,Apple’s chief executive,at a press conference here. The introduction of a smaller iPad is a bit of a shift for the company. In a call with investors,Jobs once said 7-inch tablets from competitors like Samsung and Research In Motion were “tweeners” that were too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad. The new iPad Mini is slightly larger than 7 inches,but can still fall into that category.

But with all the action in the technology market,smaller tablets have become impossible to ignore. Google,Apple’s fiercest competitor,recently released its 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet for $200. And Amazon recently introduced seven new Kindles,including a 7-inch tablet for $160 and an 8.9-inch tablet for $300. Barnes and Noble’s Nook tablet,which starts at $200,has also sold well. Combined,the three companies have sold about 15 million of these smaller,cheaper tablets,according to estimates by Forrester.

Apple recognises it now has more real competition. At the event,Schiller actually did a side-by-side comparison of the Mini to a Google Nexus 7 tablet.

He said that other companies had tried to make smaller tablets,but that they were inadequate. He noted that the iPad Mini was thinner,lighter and more durable than Google’s tablet,and still had a bigger screen.

“Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad but they’ve failed miserably,” Schiller said at the press conference here while showing screenshots of apps running on the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini side by side.

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