Sept. 18, 2012 [Cupertino, Calif.] -- At a special event held this morning at Apple headquarters, CEO Steve Jobs introduced an "ultra-magical, breathtaking, life-changing" new 42-inch widescreen iPad. The device, which he christened the iPad 42, capitalizes on consumers' rising use of tablet computers -- a market Apple has dominated since the introduction of the first iPad in early 2010 -- for viewing video.
The latest iPad will retail for $1,699 when it goes on sale, first in the United States, on Sept. 22. An innovative origami-style cover, sold separately, allows it to be propped up at a 90-degree angle or even hung from a wall, though Mr. Jobs emphasized that the iPad 42 is "surprisingly light" at just 38 pounds and is meant to be a portable device. The new iPad's relatively paltry battery life -- up to 40 minutes between charges -- is "a non-issue," claimed Mr. Jobs, "because most of us are always in close range of an electrical outlet. And there's one more thing: The iPad 42 comes with a 100-foot MagSafe power cord."
Mr. Jobs then screened a new Apple commercial that shows consumers walking around with their iPad 42s and using them at what appeared to be an outlet of Le Pain Quotidien, a bakery-cafe chain known for its large, European-style communal tables. The commercial's soundtrack is "Pumped Up Kicks," an uptempo song from indie band Foster The People.
"This changes everything," said Wall Street analyst Wen Keaton. "Makers of flat-screen TVs have been badly bruised over the past couple of years as the market has become saturated and as consumers have moved their TV consumption out of home and onto mobile devices. The iPad 42 is a hybrid device that I think will create its own market."
Still, some industry observers questioned whether consumers might be confused by Apple's new offering, given that its form factor is similar to that of other existing products. "Of course, when the first iPad came out," said tech analyst Delia Dougherty, "people dismissed it as just a giant iPod Touch, and then Apple went on to ship 15 million of them by the end of 2010. Call the iPad 42 an iPad on steroids or a glorified flat-screen TV set if you want -- but remember, whatever it is, it has Apple's logo on it, and that makes it a game-changer."
Though reaction to the supersized iPad has been largely positive, particularly among gadget blogs including Gizmodo and Engadget, Apple's newest must-have device does have its detractors. New York Times tech columnist David Pogue, for instance, revealed that during advance testing, he broke a hip and killed a puppy when he dropped his iPad 42 review unit. His counterpart at The Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg, noted that in certain situations he had to suck in his gut to avoid interference with the device's 4G cellular connection.
An Apple spokesperson, responding to those critics, issued a one-line statement: "They were holding it wrong."
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.