Live-Blogging From the Apple Event

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during an event in San Jose, California.

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11:11 a.m. Cook is back on stage and has wrapped up. Now it’s off to the demo room.

11:08 a.m. The biggest applause of the day just came, not for the iPad mini, but for the TV ad for it. It shows an iPad and an iPad mini playing a duet of chopsticks. I’ve been critical of Apple’s advertising of late. But this is a great ad. It humanizes the products in an endearing way, and will no doubt talk to current Apple customers — just one more way for the company to sink its teeth into consumers’ holiday budgets.

11:03 a.m. They are showing a video about the iPad mini, with Jony Ive and Dan Riccio talking about how they created a product that is not a diminished version of the flagship, but a “concentration” of what’s good about it.

Now the drumroll moment: the price is $329.

Preorders start on Oct. 26. Hey, that’s the day Microsoft is introducing Windows 8. Well, what do you know about that!

 

Photograph by Marcio Jose Sanchez

Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, introduces the iPad Mini.

10:55 a.m. Schiller points out that you can’t just make a tablet smaller for it to work. He is comparing it to the Nexus. The iPad mini’s screen is more than a third larger, it’s lighter, even though its made with aluminum rather than plastic. And there are 275,000 apps designed for this screen, rather than “a stretched out phone app.”

The iPad mini has an A5 chip, with a 5-megapixel iSight camera on the front and an HDTV front-side camera for FaceTime.

There’s no drop from the ten hours in battery life of the iPad. He’s selling this device pretty hard. Suggests to me they’re not viewing this as a defensive model to hold off Amazon and Samsung et al. Apple doesn’t play a whole lot of defense, though, once it creates a new product.

10:50 a.m. Here it is: the iPad Mini. It weighs .68 lb., “as light as a pad of paper.” It’s 7.2-mm thick, about a quarter thinner than the iPad.

The screen is 7.9 inches diagonal, with the same pixel count. That’s a big deal, since iPad apps will run on it as is.

10:44 a.m. Here comes a new version of iBook texts, so authors can add mathematical formulas and book upgrades.

In the corporate market, he says “nearly every single company in the Fortune 500 is experimenting with the iPad.”

Now, he calls Schiller back on stage to introduce new iPads. Just six months after the third gen, “I can’t even see them in he rear view mirror” thanks to a 2x increase from the A5x processor and a new digital signal processor.

They have upgraded the LTE performance – and even mentioned Sprint as one of the partners. Finally, some love for Sprint.

The price is $499. That’s a nice upgrade to keep the flagship iPad cooking. But here comes the star of the show.

10:38 a.m. Cook is back on stage, talking iPad. They have sold 100 million iPads. Unbelievable. He says that despite all the competition, 91 percent of web traffic on tablets is on iPads.

Now he’s talking about education — just as my colleague Adam Satariano predicted the company would.

10:35 a.m. Apple is introducing a new “fusion drive” that gets Apple into the hybrid hard drive and flash market. There is no optical drive, but one available for “those stuck in the past.” The price for the new iMac starts at $1,299. Take that, PC companies. That will make this Christmas evn tougher for Wintel than it was shaping up to be.

10:27 a.m. Now, the Mac reveal of the day: a new iMac — the side edge is just 5 mm thin, using “friction stir welding” that melds molecules … well, somehow. He’s showing how they removed a 2-mm air gap between metal and glass, by laminating metal directly to the glass. Besides making it thin, it gives better optical clarity because text and images are closer.

10:23 a.m. Now here comes a new $599 Mac mini, with a server version for $999. “You knew there’d be something with the word “mini” in this presentation,” he jokes, getting a big laugh.

10:21 a.m. “The most exciting thing about this computer is what you can’t see,” he says, including up to 7 hours of battery life due to new internal design.

10:16 a.m. The best-seller is the 13-inch MacBook. “So in typical fashion, we’re going to offer something much better,” says Schiller. It’s 20 percent thinner, and only 3.5 lbs. and but has a retina display. With 4 million pixels, it has denser resolution than any other 15- or 17-inch laptop (except Apple’s 15-inch).

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro will start at $1,699.

10:12 a.m. New iBooks have continuous scrolling, and easier ways to share highlighted quotes. It’s available now in the Bookstore.

Now to the Mac. It’s outgrown Wintel for six years running. He claims Apple has the No. 1 desktop and laptop in the U.S. (It helps if you only sell one model.)

Now, Schiller is out to talk about supposedly big changes in the Mac line.

10:05 a.m.  200 million devices are already on iOS 6. “This is the fastest growth of any new software were aware of,” Cook says.

iCloud is taking off, with more than 300 billion iMessages. That’s 28,000 a second,  ”maybe even more by now,” Cook jokes. Then he makes the obligatory shout out to Gamecenter. Wish they’d stop pretending its working like their other products.

App Store: over 35 billion apps have been downloaded. Payout to developers is $6.5 billion.

10:02 a.m. It begins. Tim Cook says the iPhone was the fastest-selling iPhone in history. Also, more than 3 million of the new iPods were sold.

9:34 a.m. The press gathers in the courtyard adjacent to the California Theatre.

9:32 a.m. I’m here at the California Theatre in downtown San Jose — a truly gorgeous movie palace built in 1927 — for what’s likely to be the debut of the iPad mini. The last time I was here was in 2004, when Bono and The Edge played a great set after the company introduced a special iPod U2 model. Those were the days when we in the business press were forever chattering about which “iPod killer” — someone’s smartphone or a MP3 player built on Microsoft’s “Plays for Sure” software — was going to end Apple’s dominance of the market. None ever did, obviously. If the iPad mini is what most expect — 7-inch screen, with lesser graphics but also a lighter price — it could mark a similarly tough day for all the reputed “iPad killers” out there, such as Google’s Nexus 7 or Microsoft’s Surface.

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