Apple Event: Next Gen Products Arrive Alongside iPad mini

With so much press and attention devoted to the rumors surrounding Apple's iPad mini, it is only natural that Apple would take today's event at the California Theatre in San Jose as an opportunity to reveal a full-on barrage of enhanced versions to its product line. Not just the iPad mini, pictured below. 

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In just over an hour, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller walked through next generation debuts of the Macbook Pro, iMac, Mac mini, and finally the anticipated iPad mini. The promises for a big 2012 have been more than met, factoring in the iPhone 5, iOS 6, and OS X Mountain Lion. 

To begin, the company has upgraded its already top-selling 13-inch MacBook Pro, now with retina display (2560x1600), 20% thinner and only 3.57 lbs. The 13-inch model will run on Intel's dual-core i5 or i7 Ivy Bridge processor, while 15-inch model will include Intel's quad-core i5 or i7 processor. Full product details can be viewed at the company's web site, where the notebook is available for order today, starting at $1699 for the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display

Next, Phil Schiller discussed the new Mac mini, up to twice as fast as its predecessor, starting at $599.  

The biggest shocker of the event may have been the next generation of the iMac, now 80% thinner and up to 8 lbs lighter than its predecessor. With 21.5-inch and 27-inch models for offer, the new iMac includes a laminated display, stereo speakers, and a reduction in reflection of 75%. It comes with flexible storage options, including Apple's Fusion Drive to optimizes Flash and HDD distribution based on a user's activity. The 21.5-inch iMac will be available next month at $1299, while the 27-inch model will start at $1799 in December. 

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Finally, the iPad mini. After months of speculation over tenths of an inch, the iPad mini comes in with a 7.9'' diagonal display that works in both portrait and landscape modes. It is quite literally pencil thin at 7.2 mm and just 0.68 lbs, with a 1020x768 pixel display sacrificing nothing in quality. The device will be offered in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular, giving it six different price points across 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models. The 32GB Wi-Fi iPad mini starts at $329, which can be compared with all iPad models here. Pre-orders begin this Friday, October 26th.

Overall, Apple communicated clearly today that it is not backing down from its competitors, on any of type of device in today's market. Much consideration has been poured over the iPad mini's expected competition from similar Google and Amazon devices. In that vein, today's presentation took care to emphasize the 275,000+ custom iPad apps, Apple's towering payouts to developers, and various features to the iBooks app that measure up against publishing services offered by Amazon.

Tim Cook announced that Apple officially sold its 100 millionth iPad two weeks ago, and that the device accounts for 91% of all tablet-based web traffic. If you go by those numbers as they stand, Apple's real competition for customers is less about the quality of its devices and more about the ecosystem, web and storage services it can offer relative to its competitors. 

While many focus on how Apple's pricing compares directly to competing products, the company always seems to work around this by providing ample choice within its own product lines. The premium being what it is, Apple offers multiple grades of value and performance that can meet anyone's particular needs. Initially, $1699 seemed to be a big leap in price for the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, plus the new design and features, but the previous model is still available starting at $1199 and would still outperform most PCs, as the MacBook line has done since 2006.

This has been a year of huge risks for the world's top device makers, with an even bigger holiday season ahead. Today's event highlighted why Apple currently holds the throne. The new products on display appeared nothing short of spectacular. Consumers likely have more to choose from this year than at any point previously, not just in terms of devices themselves, but now the integrated uses they are increasingly coming to reflect. 2012 will have to be viewed as a defining year in technology, the way the cards have been stacked. 


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