Apple Inc, on Tuesday, unveiled a smaller version of its iPad along with an updated hardware portfolio of laptops, desktops and a refreshed full-size iPad.

The ‘iPad Mini’ is a stunted cousin of the original iPad, with a screen that measures 7.8 inches diagonally, compared to 9.7 inches for the larger iPad and weighs nearly half as much as the original.

Priced at $329 for the Wi-Fi only 16 GB model, Apple is looking at competing in the smaller-tablet category and blunting the advances of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7, while leaving itself enough breathing room to pressure rivals at a later point through price cuts.

Marketing head Phil Schiller, however, spent a large part of the Mini’s presentation comparing it to the Google Nexus 7, and claimed that Apple’s new tiny tablet had two-thirds more space to browse the Internet (when turned on its side) than its Google counterpart. “You knew there would be something called ‘mini’ at this presentation, didn’t you,” Schiller joked, after CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple had sold some 100 million iPads worldwide.

According to analysts, however, the real issue could be how Apple, with its growing number of new screens, will manage to avoid the fragmentation issues that plague the Google Android ecosystem.

Before he died, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs referred to the problem in a conference call with the media, saying: “Software strategies always come first, as we know developers aren’t going to deal well with all these different-size products.”

With a smaller iPad, Apple has filled a hole in its line up, while challenging Google and Samsung from a new angle. It could, however, make life a little more difficult for application developers.

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Power of invisible technologyOctober 31, 2012