Tablet wars heat up as Apple rolls off new iPads

(CBS News) SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple unveiled its new tablet computers Tuesday, and so did two other manufacturers. In years past, competitors would lie low on a day like this. But that was when Apple dominated the market. Now the field has shifted.

When Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled his company's new ultra thin 1-pound iPad, it became the latest weapon in the tablet wars. Microsoft and Nokia also introduced new and updated products.

Apple showcased its new iPads on Oct. 22, 2013.
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"This is definitely a war," said Tim Stevens, editor-at-large for the technology website CNET. "This is big bucks and big potential for all these companies. And they know the future of these companies really relies on success of the tablet industry."

Manufacturers are expected to ship 184 million tablets this year -- 53 percent more than last year. By 2015, 331 million tablets will ship, outnumbering PCs for the first time.

About one-third of American adults now have a tablet. They are replacing textbooks in some schools and cash registers in stores.

Alex Matthews just opened a juice bar in Los Angeles and installed iPads both for the look and the cost. A regular cash register for him would cost him about $30,000. "Whereas our system [on iPad]," Matthew said, "cost around $12,000."

Less-expensive tablets mainly run on Google's Android platform are taking a bite out of Apple. Two years ago, the iPad made up 65 percent of the tablet market versus 30 percent for Androids. By the end of this year, Android is expected to have 50 percent market share, the iPad falling to 49 percent.

Microsoft's Surface tablet is a bit player at best. But in new ads, Microsoft is playing hardball, accusing Apple of form over function. In one TV commercial, the iPad asks the Surface tablet: "Do you still think I'm pretty?"

It may be a cheap shot. But then again, this is war.