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Could a major update to Apple's iPad be the reset that the company needs?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's been a few years since Apple had a smash hit new product. To be clear, the company known for innovative design is still worth $2.8 trillion. But people who watched the industry have been waiting for something fresh. Now comes a major update to the iPad. Here's NPR tech correspondent Dara Kerr.

DARA KERR, BYLINE: Apple first introduced the iPad in 2010, calling it, quote, "magical and revolutionary." It was a device touted as something between a smartphone and a computer and was seen as impressive. Fast-forward 14 years to an event this week.

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TIM COOK: This is the biggest day for iPad since its introduction.

KERR: That's Apple CEO Tim Cook, hoping to woo the media and consumers with the company's latest models. His colleague, John Ternus, who managed the project took it one step further.

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JOHN TERNUS: We've always envisioned iPad as a magical sheet of glass. And with this new design, that vision is brought to life more than ever.

KERR: Magical. It's still there. And he promises even more.

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TERNUS: We're not only going to push the limits of what you can do on iPad. We're going to crush them.

KERR: How are they going to do that? Apple says with a new high-tech chip called the M4.

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TERNUS: Capable of an astounding 38 trillion operations per second.

KERR: In plain English, that means a brighter display, better performance and enormous computing power capable of handling artificial intelligence, showing Apple is still cutting edge. This iPad refresh comes at a time when the company is under pressure to innovate, says analyst Avi Greengart of Techsponential.

AVI GREENGART: They've been declining quarter over quarter, year over year. And Apple hasn't had a new product that could reverse that. And now it does.

KERR: Not everyone shares that optimism. Bob O'Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, watched Apple's event and says it's hard for people to get excited about a tablet.

BOB O'DONNELL: Tim Cook's intro is basically, this is the biggest day since the launch (laughter) of the iPad. That seems like kind of a big claim.

KERR: Remember, this week's announcement is just an update. Plus, O'Donnell sees the new iPad as mostly catering to a small niche audience - think creative professionals, not a product launch to inspire a generation.

O'DONNELL: And so they need to catch up. And, you know, the question is, how do they do that?

KERR: That is Apple's trillion-dollar question. Dara Kerr, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Dara Kerr
Dara Kerr is a tech reporter for NPR. She examines the choices tech companies make and the influence they wield over our lives and society.