The new iPad launched by Apple at California on Wednesday rode high on two counts: the claim of delivering the “best ever display on a portable device” powered by a new quad-core graphics engine; and the capability to connect with high-speed wireless 4G networks available in the U.S., Europe and other advanced markets.

From an Indian perspective, it is not yet known when the new iPad — called simply that and not iPad3 or iPad HD as widely and wildly speculated — would be rolled out. However, the surprise announcement of slashing of prices of the iPad2 comes into immediate effect.

A press release said the iPad2 16 GB Wi-Fi version would now cost Rs.24,500 (inclusive of VAT) and the iPad2 16 GB Wi-Fi plus 3G version Rs.32,900.

The much-awaited launch took the technology enthusiasts by storm, with ‘new iPad' trending across social networks. The launch event was live-blogged by several leading online publications.

With the new iPad, Apple seems to be not just consolidating its market leadership in the segment but also hopes to eat into the dwindling PC market. In his keynote address, Apple CEO Tim Cook referred to the company's strong presence in the ‘post-PC' era with three devices — the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. In a telling statistic, he also revealed that during the fourth quarter of last year (2011), Apple had shipped more than 15 million iPads, more than the PCs shipped by leading manufacturers.

The new iPad sports the new A5X chip (custom-designed by Apple for iPad) and delivers ‘Retina Display' first seen on the iPhone4 on the 9.7-inch tablet at a resolution of 2048-by-1536 pixels. At 3.1 million pixels, that is four times more than iPad2 and nearly a million pixels more than the standard high definition TV. The facet is among the most discussed feature of the new iPad on technology forums.

The new iPad will be rolled out first across the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, the U.K. and U.S. Virgin Islands next Friday (March 16) in Apple's largest product rollout yet. It will reach others parts of Europe by March-end. Pre-orders have started online.

The launch date for India has not been announced. In the past though, with the launch of the iPad2 last year, the device reached the retail shelves within six weeks of its international debut.

The aggressive price cut to the iPad2 and decision to continue its retail is a departure in strategy from Apple.

Over the past few months, other tablet manufacturers had cut heavily prices to their tablets. Apple seems to be positioning the iPad2 at its entry-level.

It also coincides with its initiative to put out school text books via its iBooks online retail store. The entry-level tablet could be targeting the students.

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