SAN JOSE, Calif. – Apple Inc.'s pencil-thin, smaller iPad will cost much more than its competitors, signaling the company isn't going to get into a mini-tablet price war.
The company debuted the iPad Mini on Tuesday, with a screen two-thirds smaller than the full model, and half the weight.
In a surprise, Apple also revamped its flagship, full-sized iPad just six months after the launch of the latest model.
Apple's late founder Steve Jobs once ridiculed a small tablet from a competitor as a "tweener" that was too big and too small to compete with either smartphones or tablets. Now Apple's own Mini enters a growing small-tablet market dominated by Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle Fire.
Apple is charging $329 and up for the iPad Mini – a price that fits into the Apple product lineup between the latest iPod Touch ($299) and the iPad 2 ($399). Company watchers had been expecting Apple to price the iPad Mini at $250 to $300 to compete with the Kindle Fire, which starts at $159. Barnes & Noble Inc.'s Nook HD and Google Inc.'s Nexus 7 both start at $199.
"Apple had an opportunity to step on the throat of Amazon and Google yet decided to rely on its brand and focus on margin," said Bill Kreher, an analyst with brokerage Edward Jones.
Apple has sold more than 100 million iPads since April 2010. Analysts expect Apple to sell 5 million to 10 million iPad minis before the year is out.
Apple starts taking orders for the new model Friday; orders for Wi-Fi-only models orders begin Nov. 2. Later, the company will add models capable of accessing LTE wireless data networks.
The screen of the iPad Mini is 7.9 inches on the diagonal – larger than the 7-inch screens of the competitors. It also sports two cameras, on the front and on the back, which the competitors don't.
The iPad Mini is as thin as a pencil and weighs 0.68 pounds, half as much as the full-size iPad with its 9.7-inch screen.
The screen resolution is 1024 by 768 pixels, the same as the iPad 2 and a quarter of the resolution of the flagship iPad, which starts at $499.
Apple also said it's upgrading its full-size iPad, doubling the speed of the processor. Previously, the company has updated the iPad once a year.
The fourth-generation iPad will have a better camera and work on more LTE wireless data networks around the world. Apple is also replacing the 30-pin dock connector with the new, smaller "Lightning" connector introduced with the iPhone 5.
The price of the new full-size model stays the same as the previous version, starting at $499 for a Wi-Fi-only version with 16 gigabytes of memory.