The technology giant offered audiences a look at its new iPad Air, a premium £399 tablet that is 20 per cent thinner than the 9.7in iPad it replaces, and its iPad Mini with retina display at £319 which both go on sale 1 November.
Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller described the new tablets as “the biggest step yet,” as the company passes 170m tablets sold.
“This is the clearest statement Apple could have made that it is only interested in competing in the premium tablet space,” said Ovum chief telecoms analyst Jan Dawson.
Apple also dropped the prices of its older iPad Mini to £249, a price that analysts feel will put pressure on mid-market tablet makers.
“Apple is now spanning a broader price range, which gives them a useful foothold in the growing mid-market. It’s really the likes of Samsung who are playing in this space who will feel the effect of this,” said Ovum analyst Tony Cripps.
Apple also put a laundry list of software companies on notice with its announcement that its future desktop operating systems, iLife and iWork software will now be offered for free.
Microsoft currently sells its latest desktop operating system, Windows 8, for £99 and makes 96 per cent of its operating margins from licensing Windows and its Office suite.
“While this won’t disrupt Microsoft’s business overnight, it will create further pressure on Microsoft to bring down prices for its productivity software and especially for Windows,” said Dawson.
Apple also updated its MacBook Pro laptop line with faster specifications and dropping the entry prices to £1,099 for the 13in and £1,699 for the 15in model.
NOKIA UNVEILS FIRST MICROSOFT PRODUCTS
JUST hours before Apple’s Tim Cook took to the stage, former phone giant Nokia unveiled its first tablet computer and new large-screen smartphones, which will form part of Microsoft’s push in consumer devices when it takes over the Finnish company’s handset business. The products serve as a poignant way to mark the end of an era for the former global leader in mobile phones, representing its engineers’ last-ditch attempts at regaining market share from rivals after its pitifully slow start to the smartphone race. Analysts said that the Lumia 2520 tablet, along with the Lumia 1320 and 1520 smartphones with 6-inch screens, are priced low enough to attract interest but questioned whether they could compete with rivals launching similar products in time for the gift-giving holiday season.
Meanwhile, activist investor Daniel Loeb announced he had built a stake in Nokia. In a letter, Loeb said that shareholders expect a “meaningful portion” of the excess from Nokia’s recent acquisition by Microsoft. The launch of the Lumia tablet led to concerns from analysts that Nokia’s tablet could also clash with Microsoft's own Surface tablets.