Apple Launches iPad Mini

Tech giant Apple is targeting the mid-range tablet PC market with the new iPad Mini. The California-based electronics firm unveiled the gadget at the California Theatre in San Jose on Tuesday.

A smaller version of the iPad, it has a 7.9-inch screen and costs US$329-$529, over 30 percent cheaper than the full-sized iPad but still more expensive than rival products like Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7, which sell for a starting price of $199. Business magazine Forbes doubts whether Apple can convince consumers that the iPad Mini is worth $130 more.

It weighs 308 g and the company claims the battery lasts 10 hours.

Apple CEO Tim Cook at the launch of the iPad Mini at the California Theatre in San Jose on Tuesday /AFP-Yonhap Apple CEO Tim Cook at the launch of the iPad Mini at the California Theatre in San Jose on Tuesday /AFP-Yonhap

The reason Apple is betting on the smaller version even though the late co-founder Steve Jobs was against it is the recent emergence of strong rivals in the tablet PC market. Google released the Nexus 7 in September and Microsoft will roll out the new Surface tablet PC late this month.

Apple Vice President Phil Schiller dismissed the rival products, saying the Nexus 7 "is made of plastic, it's thicker and heavier. Let's look at those displays. Theirs is 7-inch, our is 7.9. The iPad mini has a third larger display area. The iPad mini is about 50 percent larger in the display area in the browser."

The iPad Mini screen has a mere 162 pixels per inch, a much lower resolution than the 264 ppi of the New iPad released this spring.

Investors were unimpressed. Apple shares closed at $613.4, down 3.3 percent from the previous day.

In the Korean market, KT and SK Telecom will start taking pre-orders on Friday and begin sales on Nov. 2. Prices will likely start at W420,000 (US$1=W1,103) for the 16GB model.

During the event, Apple also unveiled the 4th-generation iPad, an improved version of the New iPad with a faster processor. Korean mobile providers are also expected to release this product soon.

englishnews@chosun.com / Oct. 25, 2012 10:48 KST