Apple lifts lid on 4G iPad, keeps prices

Wed Mar 7, 2012 4:41pm EST
 
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By Poornima Gupta and Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc took the wraps off a faster 4G-equipped iPad starting at $629, hoping the latest version of its tablet can safeguard its dominance over rivals ranging from Amazon.com Inc to Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Chief Executive Tim Cook, presiding over his second major product launch after debuting with 2011's voice-enabled iPhone 4S, introduced the highly anticipated third iteration of the tablet, which is available for pre-orders from Wednesday and will hit store shelves March 16.

The high-end model of Apple's latest iPad will be capable of operating on a high-speed 4G "LTE," or Long-Term Evolution, network. At speeds roughly 10 times faster than current 3G technology, that may help banish the sometimes shaky video quality of older devices.

Wall Street had anticipated many of the features Cook showed off on Wednesday, including a higher-definition "retina display" screen - containing several times as many pixels within the same area - and a better camera.

Shares of Apple closed barely higher, up 43 cents at $530.69. They hovered around $530 throughout the unveiling event, which was attended by Marc Benioff, CEO of enterprise cloud computing company Salesforce.com Inc; Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of online business review site Yelp Inc; and influential venture-capitalist John Doerr, among other industry luminaries.

Some had held out hope of a positive Apple surprise, recalling late CEO Steve Jobs and his now-iconic "one more thing" unveils at the very end of the such announcements. Others said the upgrades and tweaks to the iPad could only go so far in fending off hard-charging competition.

"While the hardware is notably enhanced, with an impressive retina display, better camera and faster processor, there are still some areas of improvement that Apple needs to work on, in order to stay ahead of its encroaching competitors," said Fred Huet, managing partner at Greenwich Consulting.

"As tablets are increasingly being used for personal media consumption, it is promising to see a better screen resolution. But will this be enough to ensure Apple's competitive lead in the marketplace? No."   Continued...

 
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPad during an Apple event in San Francisco, California March 7, 2012.   REUTERS/Robert Galbraith