After what feels like months of speculation, Apple has finally sent out the invitations to the media, and consumers are ready to save the date: the iPad 3 will be announced on March 7. And while the rumors about what it will offer continue to swirl, we're turning our attention to price: specifically, how long you'll have to wait until the iPad 3 goes on sale.
When it comes to Apple, we've learned to expect highly controlled pricing, and as such, you're probably not going to see a wave of discounted iPad 3s immediately after the tablet's release. In fact, the first deal we saw for the original iPad didn't come until a full 11 months after its debut, when we saw the 16GB WiFi model for $449.
Things changed, however, with the iPad 2. Unlike the original iDevice, the iPad 2 (released in March 2011) saw a modest $10 discount at the 3-month mark in June. A very small cut indeed, but it signaled a different pricing scheme from Apple resellers. We then began seeing a relatively steady stream of iPad 2 deals, starting in September. Just six months after the tablet was released, Micro Center took a full $50 off all models in-store, dropping the 16GB WiFi model to $450. (Note that the original iPad took almost twice as long to reach this price point.) What's more, Micro Center offered this sale seven times (that we saw) through December. As we approached November, other resellers joined in on the discounted iPad 2 game. Best Buy dropped the 16GB WiFi model to $455 on Thanksgiving, which was the lowest shipped price we had seen thus far. Several other resellers offered comparable cuts, dropping the base model to as low as $449.
From September through December, we saw a stream of offers for the iPad 2 16GB WiFi model that wavered between $450 and $460, and far more sales than we saw with the original iPad. Keep in mind, however, that many of these deals were either in-store only, or available online as very short-lived offers. And naturally, as we draw closer to the release of the iPad 3, we're seeing even lower prices on the iPad 2, dipping to as low as $429 for the base model.
So what does that mean for the iPad 3? Because of the increased number of deals we saw with the iPad 2, we predict that the next generation will be more "deal-friendly." But don't get your hopes up too high; you're unlikely to see any price cuts in the first few months, save for perhaps a modest discount. However, if you wait until at least the 6-month mark in September, there's a good chance we'll begin to see consistent deals that take about 10% off the model's base price.
It's worth noting that there's speculation that the iPad 3 will be more expensive from the get-go. MacRumors published a supposedly leaked pricing sheet that suggests that iPad 3 models will each cost $70 to $80 more than the iPad 2. That would put the least expensive model at $579 instead of $499, which translates to a potential $521-priced deal (or $519, for good measure) come September.
Regardless of what its price actually is, one thing's for sure: the hottest iPad deals sell fast. So, while we may not see the first significant cuts on the iPad 3 for another six months, it's worth setting up an dealnews email alert now so you'll learn immediately when the coveted piece of technology hits new price lows.
Top photo credit: iPad 3 Latest