iPad 3 report suggests pricier models on the way

If you want to believe mysterious pricing sheets posted to Chinese social-networking sites, Apple's next iPad could be $70 to $80 more per model than the iPad 2.

iPads
Apple

The much-expected extra pixels in the iPad 3's display could add some more dollars to its price tag if a leaked price list is to be believed.

MacRumors points to a pricing sheet (registration required) that made its way to popular Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo, offering a rundown of prices for both the iPad 2 and iPad 3. The big takeaway: the newer models come in at $80 and $70 more per model than their predecessors.

If the list is to be believed, Apple will keep the iPad 2 around at its existing prices, while offering the iPad 3 at a beginning price of $579. That's for the Wi-Fi only models, which will keep the existing storage capacities of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB at $579, $679, and $779 respectively. As for the models with "3G" (and not "4G" as rumors have suggested ), those run at $699, $799, and $899 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models.

Possible iPad 3 pricing, if you believe mysterious shipping lists posted to a Chinese social publishing site.
Possible iPad 3 pricing, if you believe mysterious shipping lists posted to a Chinese social publishing site. Sina Weibo/MacRumors

To add to the handful of salt worth taking with this pricing sheet is the fact that Apple has a history of discounting its previous-generation models, with the iPad 2 outright replacing the first-generation version. Following the iPad 2's introduction, first-generation models could be had at hefty discounts , something that is expected to happen with this model too.

However, there have been rumors--specifically ones from Taiwanese tech news site Digitimes--claiming Apple would keep the iPad 2 around as part of the iPad line, much like it does with its mobile-phone business, selling the iPhone 4S alongside the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.

Part of that strategy, the reports suggested, would be to sell the iPad 2 at a discounted price to better compete with the incoming crop of $200 and $300 tablets running Google's Android operating system. Amazon in particular, has taken aim at Apple in a recent TV commercial , poking fun at the fact that customers can buy two of its e-Ink based Kindle readers, along with its 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet for the price of Apple's entry-level iPad model.

Worth pointing out is that at $899, the top-of-the-line iPad 3 would come in $100 less than Apple's entry-level MacBook, the 11-inch, 64GB MacBook Air, keeping the two lines from overlapping. Apple has said that the iPad does cannibalize on its Mac sales, but also that it's not always a bad thing . Nonetheless, having the two lines reaching the same price points would likely cause a stir.

In its first two generations of the iPad, Apple did not increase prices. That said, it has offered higher-tier versions of its iOS products at a premium. Most recently, that can be seen with last October's introduction of the 64GB iPhone 4S, which broke with Apple's existing pricing system to sell for $399.

Apple is expected to hold a special event sometime next week to take the wraps off the next iPad, with an invite going out to press any day now. An alleged shipping document that cropped up over the weekend suggested that initial deliveries of the new device were already on their way to the U.S. from overseas factories.


 

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