Apple announces 128GB iPad with retina display

Apple announced that it’s doubling the amount of storage available on the iPad — something that may appeal to business customers.

Apple said Tuesday that it will begin selling a 128 GB model of the iPad, on Feb. 5; previously, the iPad only went up to 64 GB of storage. The iPad’s price tag will start at $800, with WiFi connectivity. Users who want to connect the tablet to cellular networks will pay $929.

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The latest model also has the same capacity as Microsoft’s top-of-the-line Surface with Windows 8 Pro, which is set to hit store shelves on Feb. 9. In comparison, the Surface Pro starts at $899 for 64 GB of storage; the 128 GB model will cost $999.

Yet while the latest iPad will be cheaper than Microsoft’s high-end offering, it’s probably going to a be a tough sell for the average consumer. Even at $800, the newest iPad will only be slightly cheaper than the company’s least expensive laptop, the $999 MacBook Air. But the greater memory capacity may appeal to another all-important market — businesses.

Apple has been making a heavier push for corporate customers in recent years, as tablets have become a more common tool in the workplace. The company said Tuesday that the iPad is being used in “virtually all” Fortune 500 companies and in over 85 percent of Global 500 companies.

The business market is also Microsoft’s main target, as the tech giant hopes to piggyback off the loyalty it’s gained from customers using its Office suite of software. Its Surface with Windows 8 Pro models, which have the same keyboard covers as the Surface models that came out in October, are being marketed as lightweight laptop replacement devices suited for enterprise clients who need access to their work on the road.

In the company’s news release, Apple emphasized how a high-capacity iPad could be used for business needs. The release pulls in a testimonial from a few business-focused app developers, with a heavy focus on how the iPad’s multimedia capabilities can help employees who want quick access to drawing, audio and video files.

Apple also emphasized areas where it’s stronger than competing firms — such as Microsoft — by pointing to the number of tablet-specific apps iPad users can already download.

“With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s worldwide marketing lead.

Apple stock was up slightly on the news in Tuesday’s pre-market trading, and opened at just over $458 per share. Apple stock had been down in the $430s late last week, following its fourth-quarter earnings report. The company reported record sales figures for the iPhone and iPad as well as record revenue but still fell short of analyst estimates, piling further anxiety onto worries that the firm is losing its ability to innovate and compete with other smartphone and tablet companies.

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