SAN FRANCISCO - Apple unveiled new iPads Tuesday as the technology giant tries to beat back rising competition from Google, Samsung and in the fast-growing tablet market.

Apple executive Phil Schiller introduced a new full-sized tablet called iPad Air. It weighs one pound, significantly lighter than previous models, and is a lot thinner.

The tablet has a faster chip, new camera, dual microphones and comes in white, silver and space grey. The 16GB Wi-Fi version costs $499 and it will be available Nov. 1 in many countries, including China for the first time, Schiller said.

The new iPad mini gets the crisper Retina display and the new A7 Apple chip, Schiller also said. It comes in silver, space grey and white. It costs $399 for 16GB Wi-Fi and will be available later in November.

Apple is also keeping the older iPad mini and will drop the price to $299 for the entry model. It's also keeping the larger iPad 2, which will sell for $399 for the base model.

Despite those price cuts, Apple's announcements Tuesday confirmed that the company is sticking to its high-price strategy for newer devices, Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, said. Apple raised the entry price for the latest iPad mini to $399 from $329, he noted.

"Other companies would be incredibly proud to have just one of these products. We're pleased to present all these to you ahead of the holidays," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.
Apple shares slipped 0.8% to $517.23 in afternoon trading following the new product announcements.

Apple's share of the tablet market has been sliding as cheaper tablets running Google's Android operating system become more popular.

Android will have 49.6% of the worldwide tablet sector this year, while Apple will have 48.6% - making 2013 the first year Android will lead, according to Gartner estimates. In 2011, Apple's share was almost two-thirds, and Android was below 30%.

Still, there's a lot to fight for. Tablet shipments are expected to surge 43% to more than 263 million units in 2014, making it almost as big a market as PCs, Gartner estimates.

A revived iPad line is crucial for Apple, because Wall Street has begun to think of the company as a "one product" story again, Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes, wrote in a recent note to investors.

Alistair Barr , USA TODAY