Apple's iPad Air Goes on Sale

Updated from 8:06 a.m. to include comments about color and storage in the tenth paragraph.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's here.

Apple's ( AAPL) iPad Air went on sale Friday at 8 a.m., as Apple's biggest iPad refresh in some time looks to change the tech titan's fortune as it relates to tablets.

Research firm IDC issued a release saying that Apple continued to lose market share during the third quarter, taking 29.6% of the market, down from 40.2% in the year-ago quarter. Both Friday's launch of the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina Display, which is slated for release later this month, should boost Apple's tablet market share during the holiday shopping season.

Tablets running Google's ( GOOG) Android operating system currently dominate the tablet market, with device makers Samsung, ASUS, Lenovo, and Acer making up the rest of the top five in market share.

Apple shares were flat in trading Friday, trading at $522.68.

The new iPad Air has received rave reviews, not only for its design but also its manufacturing.

Web site iFixit has done a teardown of the new iPad Air. Aside from the A7, M7 chips and the MIMI Wi-Fi, iFixit found chips from Qualcomm, TriQuint, Skyworks Solutions, and several other chipmakers that Apple normally uses in its iDevices.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, who rates Apple shares "buy" with a $777 price target, views this launch "as the most significant iPad refresh since the original iPad." With sales having trended downward because of no new tablets in over a year, White believes this launch will "reinvigorate the iPad franchise" as consumers look at the stunning design, thinner bezel, and a 9.7-inch tablet that weighs just 1 pound.

A look on Apple's Web site showed that the new iPads are still available for sale, with delivery dates starting Nov. 4.

The tablet starts at $499 for Wi-Fi and $629 for LTE models. It's available on all Apple-supported domestic carriers -- Verizon ( VZ), AT&T ( T), T-Mobile ( TMUS), and Sprint ( S). The new iPad Air will come in space gray and silver with black, and be available in sizes ranging from 16 GB to 128 GB.

Apple sold 14.1 million iPads during the third quarter, down from 14.6 million iPads in the prior quarter. Given the launch of the new iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina Display, it's possible that iPad sales will be exceptionally strong this quarter, with CEO Tim Cook going on record as saying such.

"I think it's going to be an iPad Christmas and -- but we will see, we will report the numbers back to you in January how we did," Cook said on Apple's earnings call. "But we are pretty confident."

There were lines Friday morning forming outside of Apple's retail stores. Though the lines are not akin to the iPhone launch, which saw lines around the block, lines for the new iPar Air indicate heavy interest in the new tablet.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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