There's a sporting cliché that says "get in first, and get in hard, If you want to win" and that's what Apple did today. Instead of the rumoured single device – the iPad mini – Apple instead launched a raft of devices that targeted just about every consumer and business sector you can think of and (re)set the bar in all of those sectors. So later on in the week when the competitors launch they're going to have to make a damn big splash.
So what was launched?
The iPad 4
The big news at the launch wasn't the much predicted iPad Mini but the new 4th generation 4G iPad, which will be available some seven months after the 3rd generation iPad was announced.
For businesses the latest iPad means you'll be able to do more and quicker, and connect much faster than ever.
The new 4th gen iPad features an A6X processor that "doubles the performance of CPU tasks," has a battery that lasts up to 10 hours, faster dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, has an updated 720p 5-megapixel FaceTime camera, features the new Lightning connector found with the iPhone 5, and most importantly for businesses it will be available in a 4G LTE format.
First versions of the iPad 4th gen device will be available in November – with pre-orders from October 26. The Wi-Fi-only iPad 4 starts at £399 for 16GB, rising to £559 for 64GB, and the LTE versions start at £499 rising to £659.
The new iPad mini
Many business users – particularly those constantly out on the road - want the ease of the tablet but need the corporate applications available to them on their laptop, but they don't want to carry around two large screen devices, however they also find smartphone screens too small to do anything practical on. Which is where the mini comes in, it has a useful size screen, has all the apps they need for most day to day tasks, and it's extremely portable.
The iPad mini is a cut-down iPad but maintains most of the essential features and functions of the iPad. The mini has a 7.9-inch, 1,024 x 768 resolution screen - the same resolution as the iPad 2 –is just 7.2mm thick and weighs in at 308g, and because the screen resolution is the same as the iPad it will run the standard iPad apps without the need for rescaling or rewriting.
Like the iPad the mini will also be available in a 4G LTE capable version, and will have dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0, and has the same battery life – 10 hours – as it's big brother. It will also have the new Apple standard Lightning connector.
The mini will come with a front-facing 1.2MP camera for FaceTime calls and a 5MP rear-facing camera for still shooting and 1080p HD video recording.
The iPad mini will launch next week, and will start at £269 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model rising to £429 for a 64GB model. The more useful 4G LTE model starts at £369 for the 16GB model, and rises to £529 for the 64GB iPad mini. In the UK EE will be offering the iPad mini on their new 4G network, with the first 4G minis available from the 16 November.
The new Macbook to challenge the Ultrabook
As well as the new iPads, Apple also announced upgrades to their desktop and laptop ranges for the business user who needs more power at the desktop, and when they're on the road wants something that can take on the Ultrabook market.
For road warriors Apple has produced a new 13 inch Retina display MacBook Pro model. Described as the lightest MacBook Pro ever, it weighs in at 1.62Kg, is just 19mm thin yet manages to include a 2560 x 1600 resolution display – that's two times the resolution of a 1080p display and a 29% higher contrast ratio over the previous Pro.
The 13" model is shipping from today and the base model will cost £999 for a 2.5GHz i5 powered model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of flash.
Five new desktop Macs for business
Apples business desktop users get five new models to choose from; three new Mac Minis and two new iMacs. The new Mac minis come with either a 2.3GHz quad-core i7 processor, or a basic dual-core 2.5GHz. The quad core model has a 1TB drive, with 4GB RAM, runs OS X Mountain Lion and is priced at £679 - there's also a variant of this with two 1Tb drives and runs OS X Server, aimed at the small business and web server market with a price of £849. The dual-core mini comes in at 4GB of RAM with a 500GB hard drive and is priced at £499.
The new iMac - the eighth generation model – is housed in a wafer thin body with an edge to edge display, that's 5mm thick at the edges, and is available in 27-inch 2,560 x 1,440 and 21.5-inch 1,920 x 1,080 resolution models.
The iMacs feature Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, Nvidia Kepler graphics and up to 768GB of flash or up to 3TB on conventional disk drives.
In addition, the new iMac incudes a 720p FaceTime HD camera and dual mics and speakers, has four USB 3.0 ports and three Thunderbolt ports, but like its predecessors it lacks a CD/DVD drive.
The base model starts at £1,099 with a 2.75GHz i5 processor and 1TB HDD, plus 8GB of RAM, and starts shipping in November. The 27-incher begins with a 2.9GHz i5, 8GB of RAM and 1TB HDD for £1,499 and won't ship until December.
The only question in our minds is how is the new 4th gen iPad going to make those businesses who bought the latest 3rd gen iPad back in March feel? Those buyers who purchased a new iPad 3 expecting the device to be the best-in-class for at least a year, only to find it becoming outdated in just six months aren't going to be very happy.