Meet Apple’s iPad: Starts at $500, Supported by AT&T

Published on January 27, 2010
by John Paczkowski

“Q: What do you think of the tablet PC?
Jobs: We’re not sure the tablet PC will be successful. It’s turned into a notebook that you can write on. Do you want to handwrite all your email? We have all the technology ourselves to do that–we just don’t know whether it will be successful.”

–Apple CEO Steve Jobs, International Herald Tribune, Sept. 2002

“There are no plans to make a tablet. It turns out people want keyboards….We look at the tablet and we think it’s going to fail.”

— Steve Jobs, D: All Things Digital Conference, 2003

At a 2007 all-hands meeting to discuss the iPhone, Apple CEO Steve Jobs remarked on the company’s product roadmap. The machines Apple will bring to market in the years ahead, he said, would be “off the charts.”

This morning, Jobs made good on his word, unveiling a new multimedia tablet device called the iPad.

As predicted, the Apple iPad is a portable gadget that falls between the iPhone and Apple’s laptop line. So far, Apple (AAPL) has been highlighting the machine’s ability to deliver audio and visual stuff, including a new way to view the New York Times (NYT) via a custom-made app, games designed by Electronic Arts (ERTS), and an iBook store supported by five major publishers and designed to rival Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle platform.

The hard facts: IPad sports full multitouch functionality, includes 16 to 64-gigabyte flash storage, and provides 10 hours of battery life and one full month of standby time. It is one-half inch thick, weighs 1.5 pounds and comes with a 9.7-inch IPS display, which looks quite sharp.

The standard OS X applications look and work much the same as on the Apple laptop and iPhone. Using a pixel-doubling function, the iPad scales iPhone apps to full-screen without losing much in translation. A new iPhone software development kit geared specifically to the iPad aims to encourage development for its larger screen and is being released today.

Jobs unveiled two big surprises: The lowest-priced version of the machine will cost $500, well below the $800-$1,000 price point pundits had predicted. The lowest-priced 3G-capable machine will be $629. The top-priced device, a 64GB version equipped with 3G capability, will be $829.

Rather than go with Verizon (VZ) as a wireless carrier, Apple is sticking with much-maligned AT&T (T). Wireless services don’t come with the device, but will be sold on a monthly basis. A 250-megabyte plan will run $14.99 in the U.S., and an unlimited plan will go for $29.99.

The complete liveblog of this morning’s Apple iPad event can be seen here.

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