UPDATED: Apple has wrapped up its media event in California, where the company’s top marketing exec, Phil Schiller, confirmed the widely expected news that Apple is coming out with a smaller iPad, the iPad mini.
The iPad mini is 7.2 mm thin, and .68 pounds, with a 7.9 inch screen. It comes with a 5 MP iSight camera, and optional LTE support.
That screen size puts the device between the original 7-inch Kindle Fire and the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD.
Here’s the key detail: the iPad mini will start at $329 for the 16GB version with WiFi (not cellular connectivity). The 32GB model with WiFi will go for $429, and the 64GB version with WiFi will be $529. Preorders start Oct. 26 — Windows 8 launch day — with the WiFi versions shipping a week later.
Adding cellular connectivity, the iPad mini will go for $459 (16GB), $559 (32GB) and $659 (64GB).
With that pricing, has Amazon dodged a bullet here? By comparison, Amazon’s original 7-inch Kindle Fire sells for $159, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD (16 GB) goes for $199, and the 8.9-inch 16GB version of the Kindle Fire HD is $299.
The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD with LTE support sells for $499 for a 32GB version and $599 for a 64GB version (both of those are supported by ads on the lock screen).
Google’s Nexus 7, with a 7-inch screen, sells for $249.
“Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad, and they’ve failed miserably,” said Schiller.
The company also announced its fourth-generation iPad, with better battery life, an updated processor, and better graphics.
Earlier the company unveiled a new lineup of Macs, including a 13-inch McBook Pro with a Retina display, starting at $1,699.
In addition, the company showed a new iMac, with a screen 5mm thick, considerably thinner than existing models, starting at $1,299 for a 21.5-inch screen, shipping next month. A 27-inch model starts at $1,799, shipping in December.
Apple’s news comes three days before Microsoft releases Windows 8 with a new wave of PCs and tablets based on the new Microsoft operating system, including the Redmond company’s own Surface tablet, which starts at $499 and is more of a competitor to the larger iPad.
Following the Mac announcements, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company has sold 100 million iPads, using the slide below to contrast those sales with makers of Windows-based computers.