The iPad 2 will be revealed on March 2nd. It’s no secret that a thinner, lighter, snappier version of the slate is on the cards. But while specs have been dominating the rumour mill for weeks, nay months, one area has hardly been discussed at all: price. Apple’s current entry-level iPad costs £439, and it’d be a helluva surprise if it didn’t either slash costs considerably, or offer plenty more punch for the same price.
The shift from first to second generation is arguably the most important time in the lifecycle of any Apple product. It’s when the device moves from somewhat niche, first adopter territory to something more mainstream, and becomes (occasionally) more affordable. Perhaps the most famous case of this is the move from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G. That subsidised second-gen iPhone started at just £99, down from an eye-watering £279. The speed with which that iPhone became ubiquitous was frightening.
Of course, that centred on a product which would almost always be bought with a contract in tow. The iPad is different, at least in terms of the Wi-Fi only model. But with rival tablets now heading towards release, snipping the cost would give Apple significant power in the battle to retain its dominant position in the smartphone market.
It’d be a safe bet that with the screen staying at the same resolution, meaning there’d be no major extra construction costs, that a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad will slip south of £400. Either that or the basic version will be boosted to 32GB, a la the iPod range, with the price staying the same. And what about subsidised models?
Orange’s £25 monthly deal was reportedly slow to get off of the ground and upfront costs are now down to £99. Expect those to stay low with the new iPad, as Apple looks to help networks shift 3G models and convince punters that having a slate is not only worthwhile, but also essential. Apple doesn’t like offering its kit on the cheap and never has, as it loses the premium edge it likes to maintain. But with the iPad, it may have no choice.
Unlike the iPhone, the iPad is a market leader in terms of sales. Or to be more succinct, right now the iPad is the market. But with Android Honeycomb models coming up on the rails, a price cut would easily ensure that the iPad saw off Google’s myriad competitors and kept top spot. It won’t take much, but any small snip will bring on board thousands of new punters. Apple, it’s over to you.