Meet the iPad: Apple goes aggressive; $499 lowest price point

Apple's big event is today and we'll be there, live-blogging to give you play-by-play updates.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

Today is the big day: Apple is scheduled to announce its "latest creation" at a San Francisco event at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. I'm here at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, seated among a large turnout of press. People are still looking for seats and classic rock tracks are being played.

On the stage, in front of a large screen with an Apple logo on it, sits a single leather chair and a small round end table. Made to almost look like a space where someone might sit to read the paper, a magazine or a book, I can't help but wonder if my coffee table tablet theory might just be right.

The play-by-play:

11:35 a.m.: My verdict. The price point makes it interesting but I'm still not convinced that this device is bringing anything really new to the game. The apps are a bit enhanced but beyond that, it does pretty much everything I can already do with my Macbook and iPod Touch. The hype was bigger than the event or product.

11:33 a.m. There was no "One More Thing" from Steve. He thanked us for coming, the lights went up and the classic rock music is back.

11:32 a.m.: The iPad is the "most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price," Jobs says.

11:30 am: Jobs is back. He says he thinks that they have found a way to bridge iPhone and the laptop. Because the company has already shipped 75 million iPhones and iPod Touch devices, there's no real learning curve for new users who are already familiar with it.

11:28 a.m.: As I watch this video that's a full recap of the iPad, I find myself kind of iBored - but I haven't given up all hope yet. I'm hoping that Jobs comes back with a "One More Thing" to save this event from bombing.

11:22 a.m.: A video talking about what a breakthrough product the iPad is and how it "just feels right" to hold the Internet in your hand as you surf it.

11:20 a.m.: Here come the accessories - a dock for viewing, as well as a dock with a built in keyboard. It charges iPod and makes it look like... a laptop again. And the third accessory is a case that doubles as a stand for the iPad.

11:20 am: Worldwide availability in 60 days. For the 3G models, it's 90 days.

11:19 am: There are some gasps as people applaud at the pricing. It's $499 for the 16 GB model. For the 32 GB model. it's $599 and the 64 GB models at $699. If you want the 3G models, add another $130. That makes the top of the line priced at $829.

11:18 a.m. Drumroll, please... Jobs said he has an aggressive price goal because he wants it in the hands of many. The pricing starts at $499.

11:16 a.m.: Here comes the recap. ITunes is great, he says. Email is fantastic. It's a great way to enjoy music and video. It's "phenomenal." Yadda yadda yadda... But how much is it?

11:15 a.m.: No international deals ready yet - but Jobs says he hopes to have them in place by June. But all iPad 3G models are unlocked and uses new GSM micro SIMs - so there's a chance it "just might work."

11:13 a..m. Jobs says it's not just WiFi but also 3G. But what will it cost. Jobs calls it a breakthrough. There are two plans - a 250 MB data plan per month for $14.99 a month and an unlimited plan for $29.99 a month. And it's on AT&T, not Verizon. But AT&T is throwing in free use of AT&T WiFi hotspots. Oh, and there's no contract. You can cancel anytime you want.

11:12 am: Jobs is back on stage. The iPad syncs with iTunes on Mac or PC, just like the iPhone. All of the stuff you sync with the iPhone - music, photos, contacts, apps and more - shift over.

11:10 am: Schiller's demo of iWork is complete. The apps are $9.99 each. They are compatible with Mac versions and connect to projectors. It's interesting that the broke the apps out the suite to sell individually.

11:08 a.m.: I certainly hope Verizon joins Jobs on the stage to tell us that they're partnering. I suspect the hype was bigger than the announcement - but again, holding back full judgment til I see price.

11:03 am: Schiller's demo of iWork is impressive. There are a lot of cool features in the Keynote (Apple's version of PowerPoint) but it feels like Schiller is talking more about Keynote, instead of iPad. Oh sure, some of these features are probably enhanced for the iPad but the focus here feels more on the software instead of the hardware.

11:02 a.m.: Initial thoughts: This is a keyboardless laptop/oversized iPhone. ok... it's got a bigger screen but I'm not paying  big bucks for something like this.

10:59 am: Apple's Phil Schiller takes the stage to talk about iWork and the ability to bring these apps to this device. There's a new verson of Keynote presentations software, as well as Pages and Numbers (Apple's version of Word and Excel.)

10:58 a.m. Now we're talking about the iWork productivity apps on the iPad. Let's talk pricing here. I don't see this for $800 and I'm a Mac guy.

10:57 am: Users can change the font and font size of the book's text, as well. And that is iBooks - a great reader and a great online book store. The company uses the epub format.

10:56 a.m. The book store looks a lot like iTunes or the Apps store. Users can browse books, read reviews of a book, read a sample or just buy it - and the book downloads to the virtual "book shelf." Tap on the book and it pops right up on the screen.

10:53 am:  Steve returns to the stage and now we're talking e-books.  There's an image of the Amazon Kindle on the screen but taken it further. The new app is called iBooks. It comes with a bookshelf. There's also a new books section in the store. It has five of the largest publishers supporting, including Simon and Schuster.

10:50 a.m.: The last demo comes from MLB.com. The company said they realized they couldn't just shift the iPhone app to the iPad. They needed something better. It has a lot of extra features that allows users to interact with more - including a pop-up screen with live video. This app is the first I've seen that could make the iPad a rival to traditional TV. The screen is crisp and clear for a ball game.

10:48 a.m: Each of the demonstrators have said that they've been working on their apps "for about three weeks." On stage now is Electronic Arts and the demo of Need for Speed. It's a cool interface and the folks here say it's intense to be playing a game on an HD screen so close to your face.

10:47 am: Uh-oh. The guy doingt the demo of Brushes says that the app will be available "at product launch," our first hint that this is not a product that will be in stores today.

10:46 a.m. The next demo comes from Brushes, an iPhone painting app used to create art with fingertips. Brushes on the iPad feaures ful-screen images, as well as slideshow features that include teh ability to share. By pinching, the zoom is 32x.

10:43 am: The New York Times is now on stage to talk about The Times on the iPad. The company is developing a special app for the iPad that captures the feelings of a newspaper in a native application. The demo shows that it looks like a newspaper again. The interface allows users to launch slide shows, zoom to increase font size. and even run video in a smaller window in "the paper."

10:41 a.m.: Gaming demo time.

10:39 a.m.: Forstal says all the UIs were written to make the apps look better on the larger screen. The company has revamped the iPhone SDK for developers, which is available today. Includes an iPad simulator so developers can run them on their Macs. The company is going to highlight apps built specifically for the iPad. The company says it invited a few developers to build apps for the iPad. First up to demo is Gameloft. Mark Hickey from Gameloft is on stage to talk about what they're doing to enhance the game for the iPad.

10:34 am: As Forstall demos some apps, he plays a game that actually has great visual display on a larger screen.  The iPad syncs with iTunes so all of your iphone apps are on iPad.

10:32 a.m.: The iPad was built to run all of the apps without any changes. Unmodified is the word they used. On screen, there's a "2x" button that helps scale the application up to full screen.

10:27 am: The demo is over. There's some applause and cheers. Steve notes, though, that watching it is nothing like holding one in your hands. Here's some info on iPad. It's half inch thin and weighs 1.5 pounds. It has a 9.7 inch IPS display. It offers full capacitive touch screen. Its powered by own custom silicon. 1GHz Apple A4 chip. It has a 16, 32 or 64 Gigabyte of Flash Solid State storage. It comes with 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth. It comes with a speaker and microphone and 30 pin connector. Battery life is 10 hours.

Steve says he can fly from San Francisco to Tokyo and watch video on single charge. It has over a month of standby battery. It's environmentally-friendly, of course.

10:25 am: Now, we're looking at videos - TV shows and movies right out of iTunes. Where are all the content partnerships? Maybe there's still an e-reader app we haven't  seen yet.

10:23 am: Jobs is still doing the demo. We've seen iTunes, Calendar, and now Maps. The calendar is nice. Maps is cool, too - but again, it doesn't seem to offer much more beyond what the iPhone is offering. And interestingly enough, it still appears to be Google Maps  - not Bing.

10:21 a.m.: Jobs is showcasing a cool slideshow feature in the photos app that I've never seen before. OK, it's cool but...Will people buy a bit iPhone? That's the question. so far. I dont see it - but there's got to be more coming...holding back my judgment.

10:15 am: Jobs is surfing the Web - New York Times, Time Magazine and so on. But these aren't "apps." This is just mobile Web. Now, he's checking some e-mail - looks like Apple Mail on an iPhone. Then he jumps to photos. Again, it's nice but other than a bigger screen, it doesn't feel much different than an iPhone - except for the bigger screen.

10:14 a.m: That's an overview of what it can do but there's nothing like seeing it. Steve sits down on the leather chair with his iPad. The lock screen is like the iPhone's. Jobs sits down on the leather chair with his iPad. He's surfing the NYT on it.

10:13 a.m.: Steve calls it a "dream to type on." My two cents so far: sure, it looks nice but it looks a lot like an oversized iPhone. the apps - mail, web, maps, etc - all look like the iPhone but on a bigger screen. The iTunes store is built into the iPad.

10:11 a.m.: It has a squared screen. Looks like iPhone interface. Jobs has one on stage. Here comes an overview: It's thin and you can change the background screen. You can browse the Web with it. "It's the best browsing experience you've ever had. Holding the Internet in your hands. It's an incredible experience."

10:09 a.m. If you're going to do something like that, has to be better. Some people  thought that was a netboook but Steve says netbooks aren't better at anything. They're just cheaper laptops. Here it comes.... It's called iPad

10:07 a.m. Enough history. Now it's time for main event...sort of. Before we get to the news, let' reflect on the evolution of laptops, going back to 1991. Just a few years ago, Apple invented the phone with the iPhone. "All of us use laptops and smartphones now. The question has arisen, is there room for a third category of devices in the middle. something between a laptop and iPhone?"

"Something new has to be better at things like browsing the web. Doing email, Enjoying photos. Watching videos, playing music, playing games, reading e-books."

10:06 a.m. A little history lesson. Apple started in 1976 - old pic of the two Steves. For the most recent quarter, there was $15.6 billion in revenue - from three product lines: iPods, iPhones and Macs. Most are now mobile devices. Apple is a mobile devices company. "That's what we do."

By revenue, Apple is now the largest mobile devices company in the world. Bigger than Sony's mobile devices business and Samsung's too. By revenue, it's bigger than Nokia, too.

10:04 a.m.: Starts off with a few updates:

  • 250 millionth iPod sold a few weeks ago;
  • 284 retail stores now;
  • 50 million visitors to store in last quarter;
  • Pic of NYC upper West side store.
  • There are now over 140,000 apps in app store.

10 a.m: Jobs has hit the stage. Standing ovation and applause. He's wearing jeans black shirt. "I want want to kick off 2010 with truly magical and revlutionary product today."

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