Apple took the wraps off of its iPad mini tablet Tuesday, a pint-sized version of the iPad that's already sold 200 million units since it launched in April 2010.
"What can you do with the iPad mini that you can't do with the fourth-generation iPad?" Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of marketing, told an auditorium full of journalists in San Jose. "You can hold it in one hand. This isn't just a shrunken down iPad."
The device, which sports a 7.9-inch diagonal display, compared to the iPad's 9.7-inch screen, is aimed directly at Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus tablet.
Schiller proceeded with a brutal comparison between the iPad Mini and Google's Nexus 7, touting Apple's device features as a triumph of engineering and design where other have "failed miserably."
In his presentation, Schiller focused on screen size and physical design, emphasizing that iPad mini's 35% larger display area allows for better Web surfing compared to the Nexus 7. Schiller also noted that the iPad mini screen resolution lets it display the 275,000 applications "specifically designed" for the iPad, while most Android applications are designed for smaller, smartphone screens.
But with a price tag starting at $329 for a 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi-only version, the iPad mini is pricey compared to the $250 Nexus and the $200 Kindle Fire HD. A 64-gigabyte iPad mini that also can connect to cellular service is $659.
That price comparison will make all the difference to some consumers, said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land.
"Cost is important, too," Sullivan wrote in his analysis of the competing devices. "If the iPad mini had come out in the $250 range, I'd have seen it putting the Nexus 7 and maybe the Kindle Fire on the threatened species list. The much higher price to me suggests those devices will stillhave a market."
The iPad mini unveiling drew sustained applause from an auditorium of tech journalists, but Wall Street investors were less impressed. Apple's stock slipped nearly 2% after the product announcement, dropping $11.13 to $622.90 in late afternoon trading.
Apple made no mention of its rumored Internet radio service at the event, or its upcoming iTunes update, which was announced in September and is scheduled to be released sometime this month. Rights holders have told Billboard that the Cupertino, Calif., technology company is developing a streaming radio service with more bells and whistles than what's currently in the market, including the flexibility to play specific songs more than what's allowed under existing licensing rules that govern other services such as Pandora or iHeartRadio.