Nokia and Apple launch tablets in growing market

Nokia, whose handset division is to be acquired by Microsoft, has launched its first tablet computer in Abu Dhabi, aiming for a stake in a fast expanding sector.

The Windows 10-inch (25cm) screen tablet, Lumia 2520, was one of six new devices unveiled in the Emirati capital, including two so-called phablets - large-screen smartphones.

The Nokia Lumia 2520, available in glossy red and white as well as cyan and black in matte, is to go on sale in the United States at an estimated price of US$499 ($590) by the end of the year.

"Initial roll-out is to begin broadly in the US as well as the UK and Finland, with additional countries to follow shortly after," the company said.

"The award-winning design, the breakthrough imaging innovation, and the new experiences that we have brought to you with the Lumia smartphones we are bringing them to the tablet," said Stephen Elop, executive vice-president at Nokia Devices & Services. The device has a 6.7 megapixel camera and Zeiss optics.

Meanwhile, Apple is refreshing its iPad lineup in hopes of reclaiming lost ground in the tablet market and slashing the prices of its Mac computers to intensify the pressure on the beleaguered makers of PCs running Microsoft's Windows.

Yesterday's unveiling of Apple's latest products primes the company for a holiday shopping season onslaught aimed at rivals such as Google, Samsung Electronics, Amazon.com and Microsoft.

A thinner, lighter and faster-running tablet computer called the iPad Air highlighted the event in San Francisco. Apple also showed off a souped-up iPad Mini that boasts a faster microprocessor, a high-definition display screen and a higher price than its predecessor.

Despite the competitive pressure, Apple has steadfastly refused to cut prices on its top-of-the-line products. Instead, it has sold older versions of its iPhones and iPads at slight discounts to consumers willing to settle for less than the latest technology.

The iPad Air will start at US$499, just like earlier models, while the new iPad Mini will sell for US$399, a 21 per cent rise from the price of the first Mini. The price of the original Mini is falling from US$329 to US$299.

Industry tracker Gartner this week forecast that global tablet shipments will reach 184 million units this year, in a huge 53.4 per cent rise from last year.

The Nokia phablets, Lumia 1520 and a cheaper Lumia 1320, have a 15cm screen.

The Lumia 1520 will first be released in the US, Hong Kong, China, Singapore as well as European markets with an estimated price of US$749. The 1320 will sell for about US$339 and first go on sale in China and Vietnam, followed by other Asian markets and Europe.

Three new low-cost smartphones - Nokia Asha 500, Asha 502 and Asha 503 - are mainly targeted at developing markets in Asia and Africa. The Asha 503, which includes a five megapixel camera and a dual Sim option, is the most expensive of the three, costing about US$99.

Microsoft, which is trying to refocus around "devices and services" after missing out on mobile computing, announced a US$7.2 billion deal last month to buy Nokia's mobile phone division.

- AFP, AP

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