Apple unveils 3rd-generation iPad, Apple TV in San Francisco

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Apple ( AAPL ) CEO Tim Cook revealed the company's latest iPad tablet today at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. The event marks the first time the Cupertino-based company unveiled one of its massively popular tablets after the death of legendary founder CEO Steve Jobs.

The new iPad builds on the massive success of the iPhone 4, employing a 2048x1536 "retina" display with 3.1 million pixels. The tablet has 4G LTE capability that can reach speeds of up to 73 megabits/second on the high-speed networks of Verizon ( VZ ) and AT&T ( T ). As usual, the U.S. gets a bifurcated product line, with one set of devices for Verizon's network and another for AT&T. 

Other new features include the iSight camera from the iPhone 4S, with a 5-megapixel sensor, 1080p video recording capability and image stabilization. The whole thing is powered by an A5X processor with quad-core graphics, which Apple claims is four times more powerful than the Tegra 3 in the Asus Eee Pad, the Lenovo IdeaPad and other Google ( GOOG ) Android tablets.

Apple did muddy the waters a bit with its naming conventions. Rather than continuing in alphanumerical fashion as with the iPhone and the first two iPads, this device was not dubbed the iPad 3. It's simply called "the new iPad," while the old iPad 2 remains in production. That could confuse some less-savvy consumers.

A new Apple TV also debuted at the San Francisco event, supporting 1080p video and recommendations based on viewing history; it costs $99.

The Apple iBehemoth churns on with its relentless growth; in January, the company announced its highest quarterly earnings and revenues ever, making a Q1 profit of $13.06 billion out of $26.74 billion in revenue. It sold 7.04 million iPhones along with 15.43 million iPads and 5.2 million Macs; all three of these figures represent all-time records.

USA Today interviewed analysts from investment firms Sterne, Agee and Piper Jaffray, who estimated that Apple will sell between 55 million and 60 million iPads this year alone, bringing total sales since the tablet's introduction in April 2010 to 100 million units or higher.

The demand is definitely there - a survey from mobile ad provider inMobi revealed that almost 30 percent of mobile web users plan to buy the iPad 3. More than half of those prospective buyers would be first-time tablet purchasers.

Apple also appeared to hit the target with pricing. At the cheapest level, $499 will get consumers a 16GB, 3G-enabled model - effectively an old iPad in terms of speed but with all the graphical bells and whistles. 32GB and 64GB models retail for $599 and $699, respectively, while jumping to 4G capabilities means shelling out $629, $729 or $829 depending on how much storage you want.

The company said preorders would begin today for the device, with availability starting in just 9 days on March 16.

The $500-$600 price point represents a sweet spot - inMobi found that half of its respondents would buy a $500 iPad 3 but 57 percent would buy an older tablet if costs rose above $599. There are now 2 options within that range, though neither is able to utilize 4G networks.

Sales of the iPad 2 will continue, with a $100 drop to $399 for a 16GB, WiFi-only model.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: News Headlines , Technology

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