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Apple releases the next big thing

Jan. 28, 2010

By Rex Crum
MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple Inc. put an end to months of speculation Wednesday when the company lifted the wraps on the iPad, a new touch-screen tablet device.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the device at an event in San Francisco. Apple shares were down 1.6 percent to $202.70 during the event. The stock has more than doubled in the past 12 months, in part due to speculation for the possibilities of the device.

The iPad has a 9.7-inch touch-screen and looks similar to an enlarged version of Apple's mega-popular iPhone. Jobs said the iPad is designed to fill a gap between the iPod touch and iPhone and its MacBook line of laptop computers.

"We asked if there was room for a third category in the middle, something between a laptop and a smartphone. In order to create a new category, it needed to be far better at doing some key tasks such as browsing the Web, doing e-mail, sharing photos, watching video, gaming and reading e-books," he said.

He also took a dig at netbooks, the ultra-small laptops that other companies have launched in an attempt to fill this market.

"The problem is, netbooks aren't better at anything. They are just cheap laptops," he said.

The iPad is being targeted at media uses such as listening to music, watching movies and playing video games. The device is also geared heavily toward readers, with newspaper publishers in partnerships with Apple to market their content on the device.