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Apple unveils new iPads among less certain future of tablet sales growth

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Apple unveils new iPads among less certain future of tablet sales growth


Apple has unveiled thinner and more powerful iPads on Thursday hoping to reanimate sales in a saturated market.

Thanks to a leak, we knew ahead of the official announcement many details of the new tablets, which include the fingerprint sensors already found on iPhones.

At the launch event, Chief Executive Tim Cook called Apple’s new line-up, which includes a new iMac computer with a “5K retina” or high-end display, the company’s best ever.

But analysts say Apple may struggle to arouse the same passion for its tablets as in the past among consumers faced with an abundance of hand-held, touch-screen devices.

A larger, 12-inch-plus iPad was the subject of industry speculation ahead of Apple’s event, but size-wise there was nothing new. Reportedly larger devices are coming but not before next year.

Technology analyst Roger Kay told euronews: “I think Apple will do in tablets what it has done recently in phones, which is to cover a wider gamut of sizes than it has until now, perhaps adding a larger one to the 8” and 10” it already had. Others have tried tablets as large as 13”, but have not been particularly successful. A larger format would give Apple a showcase for its latest retina displays.”

The problem for Apple and its competitors is finding buyers.

For example, more than half of households in the United States already have one or more tablets, and people are waiting longer to replace them.

Apple is still number one with 26.9 percent of that market between April and June 2014, but sales slipped 9.3 percent from the same period last year, though some of that may have been people waiting for the new models.

Roger Kay added: “The tablet market seems to have matured rather quickly, and I don’t think Apple can restart it all by itself. However, the company is a technology and design leader, and a demonstration of prowess in these areas would help it retake some of the market share lost to Android tablet suppliers.”

Future sales growth for tablets is by no means certain for Apple, nor for its main rival Samsung – which had 17.2 percent market share in the second quarter – and the likes of Lenovo with 4.9 percent and ASUS with 4.6 percent.

Technology experts say they face stiff competition from ever-larger smartphones and the latest lightweight laptops.

Apple also said it will launch its new electronic payments service on Monday October 20, after the iPhone maker signed up another 500 banks to support a feature that competes with eBay’s PayPal and other online systems.

Chief Executive Tim Cook said developers were beginning to design apps for its upcoming Watch.

Apple last month introduced the Watch, its first new device since the iPad in 2010. The company’s entry into the rapidly expanding wearable computing arena will be available only from 2015, but Cook said software development kits for the device will be available from November.

Shares of Apple slid one percent to $96.57 shortly before the close on Thursday.

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