Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled its latest version of its popular iPad tablet, dubbed simply the "new iPad," adding a Retina Display and support for LTE networks. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will launch the device in the United States.
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Apple used its launch event in San Francisco to tout the new features of the tablet. The company said the new tablet will support 21 Mbps HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA at 42 Mbps, with theoretical LTE support topping out at 73 Mbps.
Apple also revealed the carriers' LTE data plans for the tablet. AT&T will will offer 250 MB of LTE data for $15 per month, 3 GB for $30 and 5 GB for $50. Verizon will offer 1 GB for $20 per month, 2 GB for $30 and 5 GB for $50. Verizon's usual offer of 10 GB for $80 per month was not listed by Apple, but was listed on Verizon's site. The pricing plans are all no-contract plans.
Apple also said that both CDMA and GSM iPad users will now have the ability to roam internationally. The gadget can also be used as a personal hotspot for up to five devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB, if carriers support that feature (according to The Verge, AT&T will not initially be supporting the hotspot feature). So far, various research reports have shown that most users have balked at buying tablets with cellular connections, opting instead to use Wi-Fi only.
Verizon's LTE network now covers more than 200 million POPs and AT&T's network covers 74 million. There will be two different versions of the device in the U.S. market to support the different 700 MHz band classes that AT&T and Verizon use. Apple also said Bell Mobility, Rogers and Telus will launch the device in Canada. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is not among the carriers lined up to offer the new iPad. Sprint expects to launch its LTE network by mid-year (see related story).
The tablet with Wi-Fi and LTE will cost $629 for the 16 GB version, $729 for the 32 GB version and $829 for the 64 GB version. Without LTE, the device will cost same as the iPad 2: $499 for the 16 GB model, $599 for 32 GB version and $699 for the 64 GB model. Pre-orders for the tablet will start Wednesday and it will be available March 16 first in the United States, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and Japan.
An LTE-capable iPad could foreshadow the release of an LTE-capable iPhone this year.
As expected, the new iPad's display is improved from the iPad 2, and has a 2048 x 1536 screen resolution, or 3.1 million pixels. Apple's marketing chief, Phil Schiller, said it was the "most ever in a mobile devices," according to an Engadget live blog of the event. The gadget sports an A5X processor from Apple, with quad-core graphics support designed to take advantage of the display. Additionally, the iPad has a 5-megapixel backside camera with a 5-element lens, IR filter, and ISP built into the A5X chip, which is technology Apple ported over from the iPhone 4S. The camera can also record 1080p HD video. The gadget also sports voice dictation. Interestingly, it appears the new iPad will not support Apple's Siri service.
Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that that it sold 172 million "post-PC" devices last year--the iPod, iPhone and iPad--which accounted for 76 percent of Apple's annual revenue in 2011. He said that Apple sold 62 million iOS devices in the last quarter and has sold 315 million to date. Cook
According to a recent report from Forrester Research, Apple still controls 73 percent of the tablet market, and other OEMs are struggling to catch up through improvements in services. Apple sold 15.43 million iPads in the fourth quarter and 40.5 million in total in 2011.
Forrester found that Samsung has a 5 percent market share, Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) has 4 percent and Acer a 3 percent share. Interestingly though, the Android tablets that have made the biggest inroads so far are Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook line, mainly because of what they bring consumers in terms of value-added services.
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