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Economy Briefs: Apple unveils ‘new iPad’

- - Wednesday, March 7, 2012

CALIFORNIA

Apple unveils 'new iPad' with sharper screen

SAN FRANCISCO | Apple gave the new iPad a bunch of new features but no new name.

When it goes on sale next week in the U.S. and several other countries, it will be the "iPad" or perhaps "the new iPad," - not "iPad 3" or "iPad HD," as some had speculated.

The lack of a new name could cause confusion for buyers, particularly because the older model, the iPad 2, will still be sold. But the naming practice is consistent with Apple's practices for the iPod. New models were simply called "iPod," and consumers were left to figure out which generation of the product they were seeking.

The new iPad revealed Wednesday has, as expected, a sharper screen, driven by a faster processor. What was more surprising was that the new features mean the tablet computer will be slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2 because it needs a larger battery to power the high-resolution screen.

The battery life remains the same: about 10 hours of use.

Prices aren't changing from the previous models. They will start at $499. Versions capable of accessing cellular networks will cost $629 to $829.

Apple is keeping the basic model of the iPad 2 in production and dropping the price to $399.

Apple said the new display will be sharper than the average living-room high-definition television set and will show more vibrant colors than previous models.

"We are taking it to a whole new level and are redefining the category that Apple created with the original iPad," said Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook at the launch event in San Francisco.

Earlier, Mr. Cook spoke of a "post-PC" era dominated by the iPad and other Apple products.

The new iPad will go on sale March 16 in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A week later, it will go on sale in 25 more countries.

CANADA

Air Canada's largest union issues Monday strike notice

MONTREAL | Air Canada's largest union has issued a notice that it intends to strike Monday at midnight unless a new contract is signed by then.

Air Canada said Wednesday that the airline received notice that the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers intends to strike at 12:01 a.m. (0501 Greenwich Mean Time) on March 12 if a new contract is not signed. The union represents about 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents at Air Canada.

The strike deadline coincides with the start of what's known as the March Break, when many travelers fly south for vacation in what is one the busiest travel times during the year.

Many Air Canada workers are trying to win back pay and concessions they gave up to help the airline restructure under bankruptcy protection in 2003 and 2004.

ILLINOIS

United passenger-service workers vote for union

CHICAGO | Passenger-service workers at United Airlines have voted to stay in a union.

Almost 17,000 reservations workers and gate agents voted Wednesday to be in the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Roughly half of the workers came from the old United Airlines. The other half came from Continental Airlines, which merged with United in 2010 to form United Continental Holdings Inc.

At United, the workers were already in the union. Those who came from Continental had no union.

But the new airline does not yet have joint contracts covering any of the combined work groups.

Counting other work groups, the IAM now represents about 30,000 workers at the combined airline.

JAPAN

6 executives charged in Olympus cover-up scandal

TOKYO | Japanese prosecutors formally charged Olympus Corp.'s former chairman and five other people Wednesday in a high-profile scandal involving a cover-up of massive investment losses at the company.

Tokyo prosecutors said in a statement that they formally pressed charges against Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and two other former executives at the Tokyo-based medical-equipment maker, along with three other men from consulting companies who collaborated in the scandal.

The six men were arrested in mid-February on suspicion that they had falsified the company's financial statements from 2006.

Prosecutors started a fresh investigation of the four former Olympus employees Wednesday over alleged additional falsification from 2008 to 2010.

Olympus has said it hid 117.7 billion yen ($1.5 billion) in investment losses dating to the 1990s.

The scandal surfaced late last year when then-President Michael Woodford raised questions about payments for financial advice and acquisitions of companies that were not related to Olympus' mainstay operations.

Olympus initially denied any wrongdoing but later acknowledged the hiding of investment losses.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports