Apple 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.
The company has unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the iPad Air along with a slew of new Macs at an event in San Francisco.
The iPad Air weighs just 450g, compared with 635g for the previous version. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller called the tablet a "screaming fast iPad," saying it is eight times faster than the original iPad that came out in 2010.
The iPad Air will go on sale on November 1 in the US and start at US$499 (NZ$585) for a model with 16 gigabytes of memory. There is no word just yet of a New Zealand release date or price.
Apple plans to phase out its third and fourth generation iPads while the iPad 2, which launched in 2011, continues selling.
A new iPad Mini, meanwhile, will be available later in November in the US starting at US$399 (NZ$468) for a 16-gigabyte model. It has a retina display designed to give it a clearer, sharper picture and the same 64-bit chip that powers the iPad Air.
The company has also unveiled a slew of new MacBooks.
A new, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is thinner and lighter, Schiller said, adding that the laptop has up to 9 hours of battery life, enough to watch the entire trilogy of The Dark Knight on one charge. The notebook's new price in the US is lower: US$1299, compared with US$1499 for the previous version.
A larger MacBook Pro, with a 15-inch monitor and 256 gigabytes of storage starts at US$1999, compared with US$2199 for the previous version.
The Mac Pro, a high-end desktop computer aimed at what Apple calls "power users," will be available in December in the US for US$2999.
NEW MAC SOFTWARE GIVEAWAY
Apple says it will give away operating and work software free to Mac computer users, challenging Microsoft's near-stranglehold on personal computing as the latter starts to make inroads into the mobile market.
Its Mac operating system and iWork software suite, which compete with Microsoft's Excel, Word and other applications, will now be offered free to all users.
By giving away its Mac operating system Apple is taking on Microsoft's predominant Windows platform, installed on an estimated eight to nine out of 10 of the world's computers and one of its most profitable cash cows.
"We are turning the industry on its ear, but this is not why we're doing it," Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook told media and technology executives at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center.
"We want our customers to have our latest software."
Apple may be trying to safeguard its grip on mobile software as Microsoft begins to make inroads into tablet computing with its Windows-powered Surface Pro. The advantage of those devices, especially to enterprise customers, is their ability to run Microsoft applications, such as Word or Excel.
- Stuff, with Reuters and AP
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