Apple Unveils New IPads, Macs Ahead of Holidays

Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the “iPad Air” and a high-resolution iPad Mini. The announcements come as the company faces growing competition from rival gadget makers and just weeks ahead of the holiday shopping season.

“Apple now has kind of recast itself as a company that’s going to release new products ahead of the holiday shopping season to ensure that when people walk into Apple stores, they can know that they have the newest and best products that Apple has to offer,” said S&P Capital IQ’s Scott Kessler.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said the revamped iPad was “new in so many ways that it deserves a new name.”

The iPad Air weighs just 1 pound, compared with 1.4 pounds for the previous version. Schiller called it a “screaming fast iPad.” He said it is eight times faster than the original iPad that came out in 2010.

The iPad Air will go on sale Nov. 1 and start at $499 for a model with 16 gigabytes of memory, while the iPad 2 will continue selling at $399.

A new iPad Mini with a high-resolution Retina display will be available later in November starting at $399 for a 16-gigabyte model.

The iPad’s market share has been eroding compared with cheaper rivals running Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

Research firm Gartner Inc. estimates that Android tablets will end 2013 with a 50 percent share of the worldwide market versus 49 percent for the iPad.

Rakesh Agrawal, an analyst at Redesign Mobile says the new devices will help Apple regain the lead in the long run. “I think certainly in the U.S. Apple is going to continue to dominate the tablet market,” he said.

Apple also refreshed its entire laptop computer lineup with faster and lighter models and announced that it’s long-awaited Mac Pro will be available in December for $2,999.

The company also said that its latest computer operating system, Mavericks, is available free of charge.

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