SAN JOSE, Calif. — Apple Inc.’s pencil-thin, smaller iPad will cost much more than its competitors, signaling that the company isn’t going to get into a mini-tablet price war.
The company has unveiled the iPad Mini, with a screen about two-thirds the size of the full model, and half the weight. Customers can begin ordering the new model on Friday. In a surprise, Apple also revamped its flagship, full-sized iPad just six months after the launch of the latest model.
Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs once ridiculed a small tablet from a competitor as a “tweener” that was too big and too small to compete with either smartphones or tablets. Now Apple’s own Mini enters a growing small-tablet market dominated by Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle Fire.
Apple is charging $329 and up for the Mini — a price that fits into the Apple product lineup between the latest iPod Touch ($299) and the iPad 2 ($399). Company watchers had been expecting Apple to price the iPad Mini at $250 to $300 to compete with the Kindle Fire, which starts at $159. Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook HD and Google Inc.’s Nexus 7 both start at $199.
“Apple had an opportunity to step on the throat of Amazon and Google, yet decided to rely on its brand and focus on (profit) margin,” said Bill Kreher, an analyst with brokerage Edward Jones.
The iPad Mini will compete for the attention of gadget shoppers with the release of computers and tablets running Windows 8, Microsoft’s new operating system.
The screen of the Mini is 7.9 inches on the
diagonal, making it larger than the 7-inch screens of the competitors. It also sports two cameras, on the front and on the back, which the competitors don’t.
The Mini weighs 0.68 pounds, half as much as the full-size iPad with its 9.7-inch screen.
The screen resolution is 1024 by 768 pixels, the same as the iPad 2 and a quarter of the resolution of the flagship iPad, which starts at $499.
The new model has better apps and is easier to use than competitors such as Google’s Nexus, said Avi Greengart, a consumer electronics analyst with Current Analysis.
“This really is not in the same category as some of the other 7-inch tablets,” he said. “And that’s before you consider that it has a premium design — it’s made of metal that’s extremely lightweight.”