After much anticipation, Apple rolled out a new, smaller iPad on Tuesday at the California Theater in San Jose, but not before unveiling new products from some of their other lines, including the iPad 4.
The announcement of the incredibly "thin and light" 7.9-inch iPad Mini was hotly anticipated. The Mini is 7.2 mm thin -- "as thin as a pencil" -- and only .68 pounds, which is 53 percent lighter than a full-size iPad. The Mini will cost $329 and pre-orders start Friday. The LTE versions will start at $460.
That all came from Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller, who teased the audience about half an hour into the presentation by asking: "You knew there'd be something called 'Mini' in this presentation didn't you?" The Mini announcement didn't come until about an hour into the event.
To compare, the other hot tablets on the market are much less expensive. The Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 start at $199. And consumers noticed.
After the event, Joe Florez posted on Facebook one word: "Meh." Austin Radus, 34, of Alameda, Calif., and a writer and "tech enthusiast" who owns five other tablets, said in a phone interview that he was sorely disappointed with the price. "They really priced themselves out of the market," he said.
Another poster on Gizmodo.com, wrote: "Wow, Apple really missed the mark on iPad Mini pricing. I was holding off on a KindleFireHD or Google Nexus for this, but there's no way I'm paying 50 percent more for the Apple considering it's not even better tech. This from a long-time, ALL-Apple-guy."
Leander Kahney, editor of the Cult of Mac in San Francisco, did note that the price could have been lower: "If they had priced it at $200, they would have taken over the world."
Still, as a Mac-o-phile, Kahney called the Mini "desirable," and then taking a long pause, he added: "It just inspires techno lust."
Before the Mini was rolled out, there was plenty of Mac-love for other products.
Apple introduced a "crazy thin" 5-mm iMac, 80 percent thinner than the previous model, with thin glass and no air gap between the glass and display. The price? $1,299. The audience, many of whom are Apple employees, whooped and cheered.
Something that came as a bit of a surprise, since the tech world has been focused on the announcement of a Mini, was the rollout of the iPad 4. The new tablet has a 10-hour battery life and 16 GB, offering what Schiller said is, "twice the performance" for the same price as the previous one, $499.
Kahney said there had been talk about a new iPad, but the fourth generation and what it can do seemed to come out of the blue.
"I don't think people were expecting Apple to come out with a whole new generation of an iPad so quickly, seven months after the iPad 3," Kahney said. "All the iPad 3 owners are going to be like, 'what the..?' Who wants the iPad 3 if there is a new and better one?"
To Cook and his team, there are still plenty of overall iPad virtues to extoll. Early in the event, he said the company has sold 100 million iPads for a simple reason: "People love their iPads."
Cook then noted how popular the iPad has been in schools, citing Dr. James Ponse, a school superintendent in Texas, who called the device a "game changer" in education. Cook said that 2,500 U.S. classrooms are using iBooks textbooks.
The event kicked off with Cook reminiscing a little about the past and listing a whole bunch of sales numbers. He talked about the iPod Touch -- which sold more than 3 million new iPods, and the iPhone 5, calling it the "fastest selling phone in history."
He also recapped features like iMessage, saying there have been more than 300 billion iMessages sent to date, and that Apple now has more than 1.5 billion books in the iBooks store -- customers have downloaded 400 million of them.
Schiller also introduced a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, stereo speakers, FaceTime HD camera, dual mics and a backlit keyboard -- and the audience clapped. It is .75 inches thin and weighs 3.5 pounds -- almost a pound lighter than previous generations. He also said that this new notebook has 4 million pixels -- four times the pixels of the previous generation. And it cost $1,699 -- $500 less than the 15-inch MacBook Pro.