Apple Unveils New iPad, Post-PC World

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Related: The Shiny New iPad: What It Means for Publishers

Apple will sell a new version of its market-leading tablet computer, the iPad, the company announced today. Pricing starts at $499 and the device will go on sale March 16.

“We’re talking about a world where the PC is no longer at the center of your digital world,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook at an exclusive event today held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. “The iPad is the poster-child for the post-PC world.”

The new iPad will have an updated display, new software, a new camera with software that improves user experience, a voice dictation feature and an upgraded processor and network connectivity. It’s also thinner than previous iPads.

The new iPad’s Retina Display, a next-generation, high-definition screen has more pixels per inch than a 1080p high-definition television, according to Apple.

“The retina display makes this a superb reading device. Type will be much easier to read, and comics adapted from print, in particular, will be much more legible at their reduced, on-screen sizes,” said Pablo Defendini, an e-book production expert and product manager at Safari Books Online.

The device will run on iOS 5.1, an update to the Apple iOS mobile software. The new camera, called iSight, is similar to the setup on the iPhone 4S. The device also has an upgraded micro-processor and will run on 4G networks; the iPad can also be a mobile hotspot, carrier-permitting. It is 9.44 millimeters thick and weighs 1.4 pounds. The battery lasts 10 hours.

There have also been updates to staple Apple software, like Garage Band, iPhoto and iWork.

The new iPad will range in cost from $499 for 16 gigabytes in storage to $829 for 64 gigabytes and 4G connectivity. There are six price points: at 16 gigabytes, 32 gigabytes and 64 gigabytes, with and without 4G.

About three-quarters of Apple’s revenue last year came from “post-PC” devices like the iPad and the iPhone, Cook said. The company has sold 315 million iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches through 2011 and 62 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone. According to Apple, the 15.4 million iPads it sold in the fourth quarter bested the top PC sellers in terms of units sold; H-P came in second with 15.1 million units sold.

This is the third iteration of the iPad, which was first introduced by Steve Jobs in January of 2010. Since then, the iPad has become a core part of Apple’s business, accounting for some $9.15 billion, or about 20%, of Apple’s revenue in the fourth quarter of 2011.

When the new iPad goes on sale, the price of the iPad 2 will drop to $399 from $499 for the 16 gigabyte 3G model.

Though tablet computer and e-reader adoption has skyrocketed in the U.S., some worry that those with tablet do not read as many books or have trouble sticking to reading with so many digital distractions. A recent Digital Book World survey conducted by Forrester showed book publishers themselves have soured on the prospects of tablets as reading devices. Apple is thought to have about 10% of the e-book sales market.

In its last big announcement on January 19 in New York, Apple shook the publishing world by unveiling iBooks 2, the next generation of its bookstore and e-reader, iBooks Author, an e-book authoring program, and iTunes U, Apple’s attempt at re-vamping the textbook industry. This salvo of announcements could set the stage for a confrontation with Amazon, the market leader in e-book sales and now a competitor of Apple’s on multiple fronts with its Kindle Fire tablet and its music and movie services.

Related: The Shiny New iPad: What It Means for Publishers

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