San Francisco - Apple took the wraps off a new high-end Macintosh laptop, incorporating the popular high-resolution display from its iPad as part of a raft of souped-up software and hardware the consumer electronics giant is rolling out on Monday to help it in its mobile race against Google.
CEO Tim Cook, who took over from late co-founder Steve Jobs last August, is expected to unveil new services - such as in-house mobile mapping and beefed-up Siri software - to help keep at bay Google and its fast-growing Android mobile platform.
It is also expected to release the next version of its mobile operating software, the iOS6.
Apple started its Worldwide Developers' Conference touting its hardware, its biggest edge over Google.
And at 0.7 inches, the new MacBook Pro - Apple's highest-end laptop - ranks among the thinnest laptops in the market and will hit store shelves months before many Microsoft Windows-equipped “Ultrabooks”. They will employ the “retina” displays that have won strong positive reviews for the new iPad, but start at an eye-popping $2 199 price tag.
Marketing chief Phil Schiller outlined how the redesigned MacBook Air notebooks, also unveiled at the conference, will be about $100 cheaper on average than predecessors, but sport quicker Intel processors. Analysts have speculated that the company will begin aggressively competing on price, gradually lowering the premium its Macs carry in general.
Long lines marked the beginning of the week-long annual forum, where Apple developers rub shoulders with employees, test the latest products and software, and connect with peers.
More than ever, Apple finds itself in a pitched battle with Google: in smartphones, cloud computing, and a never-ending competition to attract the best software developers. That is crucial as Apple looks to draw users deeper into its applications ecosystem.
Cook told the audience that customers have downloaded more than 30-billion Apple apps so far, choosing from more than 650 000 apps - the largest library in the industry. - Reuters