“We think the iPad is the poster child of the post–PC world,” chief executive Tim Cook told the tech elite who had gathered in San Francisco for the launch. “The momentum behind the iPad has been incredible and has surprised virtually everyone.”
The long-awaited device was unveiled last night and features a new high definition screen, a faster processor and an improved camera.
High-end models will be compatible with fast 4G mobile phone networks, due to launch later this year in the UK, allowing users to stream high definition video on the move.
The new iPad will launch in the UK in just 10 days on Friday 16 March, with a starting price of £399 for the most basic model.
In an attempt to head off competition from rivals producing cheaper tablets using Google’s Android software, the old iPad will remain on sale at the reduced price of £329.
Cook shied away from using the term iPad 3 in his presentation, instead referring to it simply as the “new” model.
Michael Holt, an analyst at Morningstar, said the announcement was about evolution rather than radical change: “They want you to think of it as the iPad, not which model. It’s an interesting choice. People who are into bragging rights would have liked to say this is the iPad 3.”
Fred Huet of Greenwich Consulting added: “While the hardware is notably enhanced there are still some areas of improvement that Apple needs to work on in order to stay ahead of its encroaching competitors.”
The tablet market has boomed since Apple introduced the first iPad in April 2010. Although initially met with scepticism, sales of the device have exploded, with Apple boasting that it sold 15.4m iPads in the last quarter.
Leading PC maker Hewlett-Packard only sold 15.1m PCs in the same period.
Apple shares were up 0.2 per cent to $530.85 in after-hours trading.