Apple Adds Sharper Screen and Speed to New iPad

March 8, 2012 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple updated the iPad on Wednesday with a high-definition screen, a faster wireless connection and several other refinements, all packaged in a device without any major design changes.

As recent history has shown, though, Apple may not need a bold overhaul of the look of its tablet computer to attract waves of new buyers.

The company said the new iPad would go on sale on March 16 at a starting price of $499, unchanged from the last generation of iPads. The product will have a screen that provides a comparable level of clarity to the iPhone's "retina display," with higher resolution than conventional high-definition televisions, according to Apple executives.

"That is distinctive and is a kind of leapfrog above existing and announced products," said A. M. Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company.

And in a sign that Apple intends to more seriously protect its share of the tablet market, which is expected to get more competitive this year, the company said it would continue to sell its second-generation iPad, dropping the price to $399 from $499.

At a company event, Apple also showed a new version of Apple TV, the company's $99 set-top box for accessing Internet video, which streams movies in the sharpest of the high-definition video formats, called 1080p.

The initial reaction to the tablet computer was mixed, as has frequently been the case of late with Apple's new iterations. Apple's stock price was about flat in regular trading, ending up 43 cents higher, at $530.69, a 0.1 percent gain.

The new tablet, called simply the new iPad, with no numbers or letters after the name, is an effort to keep growth chugging along in a two-year-old business that has turned into a major franchise for the company. Apple's $9.15 billion in iPad sales over the holiday quarter was almost double the amount of revenue Microsoft reported from its Windows software and not far from Google's total revenue as a company during the same period.

Speaking from the same stage where Steven P. Jobs, the company's late chief executive, introduced the second-generation iPad almost exactly a year ago, the company's new chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said the iPad last quarter outsold the number of personal computers sold by any individual manufacturer.

"In many ways, the iPad is reinventing portable computing and outstripping the wildest predictions," Mr. Cook said.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:00:45

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