AP: 975b4516-1f51-4bc7-b41e-97a49e4a4f62
An Apple employee holds up the new iPad Air on Tuesday in San Francisco. Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the "iPad Air" along with a slew of new Macs Tuesday at an event in San Francisco. The iPad Air weighs just 1 pound, compared with 1.4 pounds for the previous version. (AP)

Apple, Microsoft, Nokia unveil and release new tablets Tuesday

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It's tablet release day for some of the biggest manufacturers on the scene.

Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the "iPad Air" along with a slew of new Macs ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The company also said that its latest computer operating system, Mavericks, is available free of charge.

The Cupertino, Calif. company made the announcements Tuesday at an event in San Francisco. The iPad Air weighs 1 pound, compared with 1.4 pounds for the previous version. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller called the tablet a "screaming fast iPad." He said it is eight times faster than the original iPad that came out in 2010.

The iPad Air will go on sale Nov. 1 and start at $499, while the iPad 2 will continue selling at $399.

Nokia is expanding its lineup of Windows phones, including a "phablet" and introducing its first tablet computer, all sporting the powerful camera technology found in its flagship Lumia 1020 smartphone.

And Microsoft released the Surface 2 Tuesday.

"Microsoft faces the biggest challenge," GeekWire's Todd Bishop told the Morning News on KIRO Radio.

According to Bishop, it's hard for all of these companies to come up with a "big wow" factor, and they're left having to sell consumers on incremental improvements.

Nokia, the struggling cellphone maker is turning to the camera to differentiate its phones from rivals. The Lumia 1020 has a 41-megapixel camera with technology designed to produce better low-light shots and offer greater manual controls than most smartphones.

The new devices will use Microsoft's Windows system and come as Microsoft aims to complete its 5.44 billion euros ($7.4 billion) deal to buy Nokia's phone business and patent rights. The deal is expected to close early next year.

Nokia, a Finnish company, has seen its cellphone business unravel since Apple revolutionized the way people use handsets with the 2007 introduction of the iPhone. Microsoft, meanwhile, is struggling amid declines in sales of traditional personal computers in favor of smartphones and tablets.

Nokia's new Lumia 1520 will have a larger screen, measuring 6 inches diagonally, compared with 4.5 inches on the 1020. Nokia said the new phone's camera will have only 20 megapixels in order to keep the camera sensor smaller and the phone thinner. But that's still more resolution than most other phones.

At the San Francisco event, Apple also unveiled a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is thinner and lighter, Schiller said, adding that the laptop has up to 9 hours of battery life, enough to "watch the entire trilogy of `The Black Knight' on one charge." The notebook's new price is lower: $1,299, compared with $1,499 for the previous version.

A larger MacBook Pro, with a 15-inch monitor and 256 gigabytes of storage starts at $1,999, compared with $2,199 for the previous version.

The Mac Pro, a high-end desktop computer aimed at what Apple calls "power users," will be available in December for $2,999.

Apple also says nearly two-thirds of its mobile devices are running iOS7, the revised operating system it released in September. Twenty million people have listened to iTunes Radio about a month after its release.

The company sold 14.6 million iPads in the June quarter, down 14 percent from the same time last year.

The iPad's market share has been eroding compared with cheaper rivals running Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

Research firm Gartner Inc. estimates that Android tablets will end 2013 with a 50 percent share of the worldwide market versus 49 percent for the iPad. Just two years ago, the iPad commanded a 65 percent market share compared to 30 percent for Android tablets.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple has sold 170 million iPads since the tablets launched three years ago.

MyNorthwest.com's Alyssa Kleven contributed to this report.


MyNorthwest.com, Staff report
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