Ending weeks of speculation, Apple Inc., has finally lifted the cover off a svelte 7.5 millimetres thin new tablet device called iPad Air. A new 13-inch MacBook Pro with retina display, a larger MacBook Pro with a 15-inch screen and a Mac Pro high-end desktop, all powered by the new Mavericks operating systems were also introduced by the Cupertino, Calif.-based company on Tuesday.
Weighing just one pound compared the the 1.4 pounds of its predecessor, the iPad Air comes with a Retina display an is powered by the new A7 chip. The processor with 64-bit architecture, which was first introduced in Apple’s iPhone 5S last month, provides the new tablet with twice the CPU and graphics performance of the previous iPad model. The device also has a battery that offers up to 10 hours of power.
The tablet goes on sale November 1 with a starting price of $499.
“As expected, Apple took some cues from the iPad Mini in Launching the new iPad Air, which is thinner and ligther, while adopting many of the internal improvements first seen in the iPhone 5S,” said Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst for technology analysts firm Ovum. “This represents a good enough oost to the previous version to trigger good upgrade sales and get iPad shipments growing again, which was a key objective for this launch.”
Other new features in the iPad Air include dual antennas and multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technology which according to Apple will deliver “up to twice the Wi-Fi perfromance” of its predecessor. The new device also supports more LTE bands for faster and easy connection.
Apple said its latest tablet which runs on the new iOS 7 operating system is also designed for multitasking.
Dawson said the Apple’s startegy with the iPad Air contrasts with its approach on the first iPad Mini.
“When that device launched, it was with a sub-par display and specs that matched the older iPad 2,” he said. “The new iPad Mini and iPad Air both have top-of-the-line specs and start at $399, meaning that the minimum price of the high-performance iPad had actually gone up.”
The gap between the specs of the cheaper iPad Mini and iPad 2 and the new iPads signifies that it is only willing to compete at the lower price points with older models.
This leaves a huge chunk of the tablet market un-served by Apple while others such as Google, Amazon and a raft of others aggressively target the sub-$400 market. This reinforces Ovum’s view that Apple’s share in tablets will continue to fall as Android’s share rises over the coming years, said Dawson.
He said it appears Apple is trying to push the average sellign price of its tablets back up after its price had dropped steadily over the last few years. He thinks the new tablets will sell well especially during the Holiday shopping season.
“This is the clearest statement Apple could have made that it is only interested in competing in the premium tablet space,” said Dawson.