Apple has this morning unveiled its new iPad mini, among a slew of new products including a fourth-generation full-sized iPad.
The new mini device, introduced at an event in San Jose, has a 7.9-inch screen, as opposed to the existing iPads which are 9.7 inches.
"You can hold it in one hand... It's not just a shrunken down iPad. It's an entirely new design," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president for worldwide marketing.
There's also a version that will be capable of using cellular networks.
All of the software designed for the original iPad will work on the smaller one, as the display is 1024 by 768 pixels - the same as the original iPad, the company said.
iPad mini wi-fi models will be available in New Zealand on Friday, November 2 for a recommended retail price of $479 for the 16GB model, $629 for the 32GB model and $779 for the 64GB model.
Models will be available in black or white.
Pre-orders are available from this Friday.
The price puts the Mini between the 2011 full-sized iPad model and the 4-inch iPod Touch.
NEW FULL-SIZED IPAD
In a surprise development, Apple also announced the release of a new, fourth-generation full-sized iPad.
The machine would pack a lot more processing power than its predecessor, featuring a new A6X processor, Apple said, and would feature a 2048 by 1536 pixel retina display.
It will also sport the new connector that Apple unveiled with the new iPhone 5 last month. Apple says the new connector helps the company keep up with modern times, but it also requires consumers to buy new accessories or an adapter.
The fourth generation iPad wi-fi models will also be available in New Zealand on Friday, November 2, for a recommended retail price of $729 for the 16GB model, $879 for the 32GB model and $1029for the 64GB model.
CASHING IN ON NEW MARKET
Apple hopes to beat back their charge onto its home turf of consumer electronics hardware, while safeguarding its lead in the larger 10-inch tablet space that even deep-pocketed rivals like Samsung have found tough to penetrate.
Amazon's Kindle and Google's Nexus 7 have grabbed a chunk of the lower end of the tablet market and proved demand for a pocket-sized slate exists, helping force Apple into a space it has avoided and at times derided, analysts say.
A smaller tablet marks the first device to be added to Apple's compact portfolio under Chief Executive Tim Cook, who took over from co-founder Steve Jobs just before his death.
"Apple sensed early that they had a real winner with the iPad and that has proven to be correct," said Lars Albright, co-founder of mobile advertising startup SessionM and a former Apple ad executive.
"They have a large market share, and to protect that market share they have got to be innovative," he said.
Apple's invitation-only event got underway at 10am local time (6am NZ time).
Wall Street analysts have said for months that Apple was planning a less expensive version of the iPad to take on cheaper competing devices, a move they say might hurt its margins, but prevent its rivals from dominating an increasingly important segment.
The chief rival is Amazon, which proved a 7-inch tablet at around US$200 (NZ$246) has consumer appeal. The Kindle Fire, released last year for US$199, was one of the hottest-selling holiday gadgets. It pressured Amazon's margins but gave it potentially millions of new high-spending customers.
NEW PRODUCTS RELEASED
Apple this morning also announced a new MacBook Pro with a 13.3 inch retina display. The new version adds the sharper display and is thinner and lighter than the regular MacBook Pro.
The starting price is US$1699 (NZ$2091).
The company also announced a new Mac Mini which comes with 4 gigabytes of RAM, or working memory, and a 500 GB hard drive for storage.
The Mac Mini starts at US$599 (NZ$737), with a US$999 (NZ$1230) version that comes with a terabyte hard drive, or double the capacity.
Schiller this morning unveiled new iMac computers.
There will be models with Apple's new fusion drive - a combination of the traditional, spinning hard drive and one using "flash" memory.
Schiller says the fusion drive will have the speed of flash and the capacity of regular hard drives.
The new iMacs will come in two display sizes.
Apple stock declined US$16.03, or 2.5 per cent, to US$618. Shares of Amazon.com Inc., whose Kindle Fire tablets compete with the iPad, fell 28 cents to US$233.50.
- AP, Reuters, and Stuff