Apple has placed a tremendous amount of resources on its tablet initiative, as it seeks to hold onto its dominant position not only in market share, but also in usage share. According to IDC, Apple held 29.6% of the tablet market in the third quarter, down from 40.2% in the year-ago quarter. However, on Apple's earnings call, the company said usage share is more important than market share. "We are winning with our products in all the ways that are most important to us, in customer satisfaction, in product usage and in customer loyalty."
The iPad Air has received rave reviews for its redesign, with notable gadget review Walt Mossberg called it the "the best tablet [he's] ever reviewed." The iPad Air, which comes in space gray and silver/black, is 20% thinner than the previous iPad. The Wi-Fi version weighs just 1 pound, compared to 1.33 pounds for the iPad 2, which is still on sale. It comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB models, starting at $499 for Wi-Fi and $629 for LTE versions.
Talking on its earnings call, Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook heaped incredible amounts of praise on both products, especially the iPad Air. "And iPad Air is just, it's an absolutely incredible product, the best iPad we have ever done," Cook said. "And so I think all of these are going -- these products are going to do really well. I think it's going to be an iPad Christmas. But we'll see. We will report the numbers back to you in January how we did. But we're pretty confident."
Judging by first weekend usage figures, Apple appears well on its way to an "iPad Christmas" -- and then some.
--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York
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