Apple iPad Mini Event: 3 Most Important Takeaways

SAN FRANCISCO ( TheStreet) - Apple ( AAPL) capped off an incredible 2012 by announcing a slew of new products on Tuesday, including the long-awaited iPad Mini, but the new 7.9-inch tablet wasn't the only major takeaway from this event.

In addition to the new smaller iPad, Apple unveiled a fourth-generation iPad, an updated Mac Mini, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and topping it all off, a new iMac.

While the iPad Mini is likely to receive the majority of the press coverage in the coming weeks, the iMac may wind up being more important, as desktop computers are replaced in the enterprise, and at home. The new iMac is 5 millimeters thick, 80% thinner than previous versions of the product. Apple Senior Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller announced that Apple incorporated a new technology, known as friction stir welding, into the device to help make it this thin. It's truly a sight to behold.

Apple also updated the insides of the iMac, utilizing Intel's ( INTC) i5 chips, in addition to NVidia's ( NVDA) graphics chip. Additionally, Apple's new Fusion Drive, a combination flash and hard drive, is built into the new iMad. This provides the performance and speed of a flash drive as well as the storage size of a traditional hard drive. Schiller noted that the Fusion Drive "learns" which applications you use the most, and optimizes them in either the flash or storage part of the Fusion Drive.

The 21.5-inch version of the iMac starts at $1,299, while the 27-inch version of the iMac starts at $1,799. The smaller iMac starts shipping next month, with the 27-inch version slated to ship in December.

The next major talking point was a bit unexpected. While many people were expecting the iPad Mini, few, if any, thought Apple would unveil its fourth-generation iPad.

The next-gen iPad, which starts pre-orders on Friday, Oct.26, is very similar to the one announced in March, with a few new additions. It has the A6X chip, becoming Apple's first device to use the high-speed processor. FaceTime is updated for high-definition, and Wi-Fi is twice as fast as previous versions. The new iPad has 10-hour battery life, as does the iPad Mini and the previous version of the iPad. Both the iPad Mini and the next-gen iPad support Apple's new Lightning connector, as the tech giant continues its move away from its traditional 30-pin connector.

Though not part of the presentation, various Web sites reported that Apple will be replacing third-gen iPads bought in the past 30 days with this new version, as the device will be discontinued. Pricing for the fourth-gen iPad is the same, starting at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi version, and $629 for the LTE 16 GB version.

The third major takeaway from the event was not a product, but rather an announcement, which some may see as a disappointment. CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple has sold over 100 million iPads since the product was introduced in 2010. This implies that Apple sold just 16 million iPads in its fiscal fourth-quarter, which ended Sept. 30. Apple reports fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow, which TheStreet will be covering live.

If it's true that Apple sold only 16 million iPads, this would be a slowdown from the third-quarter, when it sold 17 million of the tablts. It will be worth watching and listening to see if there are any hiccups in the tablet market.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in San Francisco, Calif.

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