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UPDATE 1-Apple kicks off event expected to show new iPads

Poornima Gupta
Tuesday, 22 Oct 2013 | 1:32 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook kicked off a product event on Tuesday at which the company is expected to introduce slimmer, faster iPads in time for the holidays.

The new tablets would face stiff competition, with Microsoft Corp, Nokia and Amazon.com Inc all plugging rival devices in coming months.

Apple, which jumpstarted the tablet computing market in 2010 with the first iPad, has already come under increasing pressure from cheaper devices ranging from Amazon's Kindle Fire to Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Note.

But while Apple is ceding market share to rivals, its superior library of apps and content should safeguard its lead for years to come, analysts say.

Longer term however, investors hope to see real device innovation from a company that has not unveiled a new breakthrough product in years.

Cook on Tuesday dismissed the competition as directionless.

"Our competition is different: they're confused," Cook told media and technology executives at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center. "Now they're trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows what they'll do next?"

"We have a very clear direction and a very ambitious goal. We still believe deeply in this category and we're not slowing down on our innovation."

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