Apple Inc took the wraps off an 8-inch tablet on Tuesday in its biggest product move since the debut of the iPad two years ago, launching a smaller version of the gadget into a market staked out by Amazon.com Inc and Google Inc.
The 7.9 inch “iPad mini” marks Apple’s first foray into the smaller-tablet segment. Apple also announced a fourth-generation full-sized iPad with improvements in graphics and processing speeds, just two days before Microsoft is due to show off its own “Surface” tablet.
Apple hopes to beat back their charge onto its home turf of consumer electronics hardware, while safeguarding its lead in the larger 10-inch tablet space that even deep-pocketed rivals like Samsung Electronics have found tough to penetrate.
Chief Executive Tim Cook kicked off Tuesday’s event, held at the opulent California Theater in San Jose, by touting the just-launched iPhone 5 as the fastest-selling smartphone in history. He added that there are now 200 million devices running iOS6, the fastest upgrade rate he has seen since the mobile software was launched about a month ago.
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FLASH: Apple has sent out invitations for a special event on October 23. Watch Reuters.com for more.
Apple Inc distributed invitations to an event in San Francisco on September 12, setting the stage for what is widely expected to be the release of its latest iPhone.
The invitation offers a clue that the fifth version of the popular iPhone could be in the pipeline. The invitation says “It’s almost here.”
A large number 12 on the invite, corresponding to the date of the event, casts a shadow of a number 5.The event will take place at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the site where Apple has unveiled various past products such as the iPad.
Photo: People attend the annual Apple Expo at the CNIT center at La Defense in Paris September 15, 1995. [Reuters/Mal Langsdon]
Google Inc CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook have been conducting behind-the-scenes conversations about a range of intellectual property matters, including the ongoing mobile patent disputes between the companies, according to people familiar with the matter.
The two chief executives had a phone conversation last week, the sources said. Discussions involving lower-level officials of the two companies are also ongoing.
Page and Cook are expected to talk again in the coming weeks, though no firm date has been set, the sources said. One source told Reuters that a meeting was scheduled for this Friday, but had been delayed for reasons that were unclear.
The two companies are keeping the lines of communication open at a high level against the backdrop of Apple’s decisive legal victory in a patent infringement case against Samsung, which uses Google’s Android software.
Apple Inc licensed its prized design patents to Microsoft Corp but with an “anti-cloning agreement” to prevent copying of its iPhone and iPad, an Apple executive said on Monday.
The testimony from Apple patent licensing director Boris Teksler came in one of the most closely watched technology trials in years. Apple is accusing Samsung Electronics Co Ltd of copying its iPhone and iPad, while the Korean company says Apple infringes several of its wireless technology patents.
Apple had reached out to Samsung in 2010, hoping to strike an agreement with its rival on patent licensing before their dispute hit the courts.
Teksler testified that Apple offered a clutch of patents for licensing but, crucially, viewed patents related to what he called the “unique user experience” as a highly protected category.
Those included design patents at issue in the lawsuit, covering the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad. Teksler told jurors last week he could count on “on one hand” the instances Apple has licensed those patents.