After years of speculation that Apple Inc. would bring to market a new tablet computer, the company today took the covers off its iPad. And visual impressions aside that it looked like a big iPhone, the new product will also incorporate aspects of e-readers and netbooks.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this article said Apple would charge $14.99 a month for 250 gigabytes of data on its 3G network. The fee is for 250 megabytes of data..
But it won't make phone calls.
The iPad -- with a 10-inch screen and weighing 1.5 pounds -- will run all the more than 140,000 apps that can be used on the company's iPhone or iPod touch. But the big addition is an iBook application that -- with Apple's own online iBookstore -- positions iPad as an e-reader to compete with Amazon.com's Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook.
Apple hopes to do for books what its iTunes store has done for music, and so far it has signed up five publishers.
Like the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad has an on-screen virtual keyboard, but one that has more finger room for typing. In addition, an optional keyboard dock will be sold so that a real-world keyboard can be used with the iPad.
The 10-inch, LED-backlit screen on the iPad was designed to appeal to gamers and game producers. And it has the all the same abilities to play videos as the iPhone and iPod touch, but of course with a bigger screen. Apple claimed a battery life of 10 hours for the iPad while in use. The first Wi-Fi enabled iPads will come out in approximately two months, with prices starting at $499 for models with 16 gigabytes of storage. Moving up, the price will be $599 for the 32-gigabyte model and $699 for 64 gigabytes.
About a month later, iPads that can also access the 3G data network -- for more portable use -- will arrive. The cost will be $629 for the 16-gigabyte model, $729 for 32 gigabytesand $829 for 64 gigabytes
Monthly plans for using the 3G network will be $14.99 for 250 gigabytes of data per month or $29.99 for unlimited use. No long-term commitment is needed -- the plans can be canceled at any time.
Until real-world (non-Apple) users get to try the iPad, the verdict is out on its consumer usefulness. But one thing is for sure, it's a relatively green device, with no arsenic or mercury.
Wall Street turned out to be slightly favorable toward Apple on the day of the iPad unveiling. Although share prices dipped when the announcement was being made, Apple stock ended the trading day up $1.94, or about 1%, to $207.88