The rumored expansion of iPad models this year may reduce the price of entry for owning an Apple tablet, if a new report is to be believed.
Despite having its report on Apple planning to triple its iPad lineup this year, Taiwan-based tech site DigiTimes today reiterated that assessment, also claiming that the change could bring big price cuts at the low end.
In a research report issued earlier today, the site once again asserted that Apple plans to expand its lineup of iPads by adding models that serve the "high-end segment" and "the midrange," while continuing to offer the iPad 2.
"With the existing iPad 2, the Apple tablet series may cover all price segments--from entry-level to high-end. Apple's pricing strategy for its iPad series is crucial to the tablet market. It remains to be seen at what price level Apple will set its entry-level iPad. For Wi-Fi-only models, U.S. $299, U.S. $349 or U.S. $399 may all be possible," the outlet said.
A $299 iPad has been available before, but there were caveats galore. It was Apple's first-generation device, and it only sold atthrough third-party carrier stores following the introduction of Apple's second-generation model.
Since then, competitors have emerged, including Amazon.com and its Kindle Fire, which made waves near the end of last year, selling for $199. While not sporting as big of a display, and missing a handful of hardware features found on the iPad, it sells for less than half the price of Apple's current entry-level iPad, with reports pegging sales atduring December.
Apple has maintained the same pricing structure since the introduction of the iPad in 2010, offering Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models of the tablet at different pricing tiers for its 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models. The entry-level 16GB model with Wi-Fi starts at $499, with each additional tier of storage, plus optional 3G networking, tacking on costs scaling up to $829.
One important consideration is the cost of producing the iPad. A teardown of the iPad 2 by IHS-owned iSupply last year estimated the total cost of Apple's two 32GB models to start at $326.60, with manufacturing costs pushing that total north of $333. iSuppli lists the LCD screen as the most expensive part of the tablet, at $127. Costs could have certainly come down between then and now, but Apple is expected to be utilizing panels with considerably higher pixel density in the next iPad, .
Apple has been known to make considerable price cuts on its products, though such moves have been few and far between. The shortlist includes the $200 price cut on the original iPhone, a move that came a little more than two months after its introduction and infuriated early buyers, leading to Apple . There was also on the solid-state version of its first-generation MacBook Air.
The suggested iPad price cut comes alongside price reductions on two high-profile tablets in recent days, with Sonyover the weekend, and Research In Motion , down from its $499 starting point.