SAN FRANCISCO – After virtually ignoring the company’s marquee tablet for two years, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) released the lightning fast iPad Air. Similar to previous iPads, the Air will sport a 9.7-inch screen; however updates included reducing the weight by almost 30 percent from 1.4 pounds to 1 pound, a slimmer profile, and a faster processor – the new iPad will utilize the same A7 processor as the iPhone 5S. The new processor will make the new iPad 72 times faster than the original version released in 2010.
According to Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller, ‘this is our biggest leap forward ever with a full-size iPad.’ Sales of the new ipad will begin on November 1, with prices starting at $ 499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi-only version up to $ 629 for a 16GB with 4G LTE connectivity. The company also released an upgrade to the iPad Mini, which is expected to hit the shelves in mid-to-late November.
In an effort to maintain market share in the personal computer market, Apple also announced on Tuesday that their newest version of their Mac Operating System, OS X Mavericks, would be made available for download online for free. With sales of personal computers declining, the move has been viewed as a way to erode Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) as sales of the Window’s operating system is a significant part of the company’s revenue.
In the view of some analysts, it is getting harder for tablet manufacturers to differentiate themselves, and this could spell trouble for Apple as more companies release their own tablet solutions. According to Sarah Rotman Epps, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, ‘tablets are a maturing market, and there’s not much competitors can do to differentiate at this point. Replacement sales are growing much, much faster than new sales worldwide and companies competing for customers they already have.’
Mindful of this, Apple CEO Tim Cook, took a swipe at Microsoft’s Surface Tablet during the product release, stating ‘they chased after netbooks,’ he said. ‘Now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs.’ However, Cook might be missing the point at it would appear that the decline in PC sales is indicative of a shift towards lighter, faster, connected mobile devices that can allow enterprise users the ability to multi-task. If this future vision is correct, Apple might be in for a long fight in what is fast becoming a commodity market.
Shares of Apple were down on Tuesday to close at $ 519.87.