Apple launches iPad Mini with 7.9-inch screen

Apple today unveiled a smaller version of its hit iPad tablet - a 7.9-inch device 7.2mm thick and half the weight of previous iPads.

The machine will start at $330, £269 in the UK.

It has a 10-hour battery life and runs the same apps as older iPads.

It is available to pre-order from Friday and will ship from November 2 in the United States. Other territories will wait longer for the device.

The company also unveiled a new, faster 'iPad 4', with a faster processor and longer battery life. It will be the first iPad to run on EE's 4G network in the UK.

                             [Related: iPad Mini - hands on with the rivals]

Apple's tablet already dominates the touchscreen tablet market, with 100 million devices sold.

The device was shown off by Apple CEO Tim Cook in an event in San Jose, California and streamed around the world by video.

The device is the first 'new' product line unveiled by new Chief Executive Tim Cook, who took over from co-founder Steve Jobs just before his death.

Jobs himself was reportedly against the idea of a seven-inch tablet.

The company also unveiled a new 13-inch version of its Macbook computers, armed with a Retina screen, similar to the one in iPad 2. The new laptop is 0.75in thick.

Apple has sold 100 million iPads, and claims that 91% of web traffic from tablet devices comes from its tablet computers.

The device is seen by analysts as a response to the demand for Android devices such as  Amazon's Kindle and Google's Nexus 7.

The sales of such devicess at lower end of the tablet market and proved demand for a pocket-sized slate exists.

"Apple sensed early that they had a real winner with the iPad and that has proven to be correct," said Lars Albright, co-founder of mobile advertising startup SessionM and a former Apple ad executive.

"They have a large market share, and to protect that market share they have got to be innovative," he said.

Wall Street analysts have said for months that Apple was planning a less expensive version of the iPad to take on cheaper competing devices.

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