Apple's iPad Air, iPad mini updates ensure strong upgrade cycle

Apple has covered its iPad price points well. So well that Apple negated the Android tablet market's price advantage for the holidays.

Apple had an ambitious agenda for its iPad product cycle when it unveiled its latest tablets on Tuesday. First, Apple had to renew interest in its largest 9.7-inch screen iPad and deliver a Retina display for its iPad mini, which delivers the unit volume.

Mission accomplished. And for the gravy, Apple has covered enough pricing points to give rival tablet makers fits.

On the large iPad front, Apple's chore was to renew interest. The company delivered the iPad Air. The iPad Air starts at $499, has an A7 chip and is 7.5mm thick, down from 9.4mm.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said the iPad Air is "the lightest full-size tablet in the world."

ipad air2

Now there's a good argument to be made that the full-sized iPad is going to be eclipsed by the iPad mini, which now has a Retina display. What Apple has done is cover its screen bases well enough to cover the low end of the market and the high end. The iPad 2 will go for $399.

On the iPad mini front, Apple delivered its Retina display for its 7-inch screen and provided largely the same specs as its large tablet.

ipad mini pricing

The instant reaction from tablet buyers ranged from "I'm getting the iPad mini no matter what" to "well, the iPad Air looks strong."

In any case, Apple did what it had to. It covered all price points.

ipad full slate

The big question here is whether Android tablets are going to have Christmas season mojo when the cheapest iPad mini is $299. My hunch is that price will be dangerous to the competition in many respects.

Add it up and Apple probably isn't all that worried about the rest of the field. All Apple really has to do is ensure that its installed base upgrades. The company delivered nicely on that front. Apple has clearly dangled enough carrots to get its installed base to consider buying a new iPad.