Hey Apple: please give us a cheap(er) iPad

Mar 6, 2012
Tech

Tomorrow, Apple CEO Tim Cook will take the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and announce the year’s new iteration of the iPad, and rumors have been flying as to what he’ll show off. I, for one, have just one request for what I’d like to see show up […]

Tomorrow, Apple CEO Tim Cook will take the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and announce the year’s new iteration of the iPad, and rumors have been flying as to what he’ll show off.

I, for one, have just one request for what I’d like to see show up at the announcement, and it’s not a Retina display for the iPad, or 4G LTE support, or a new super-fast processor. For my part, the only feature I’d like to see Apple change for the iPad is the price tag.

Rumor has it, Apple is considering a 7-inch, smaller iPad that could make its way onto stage tomorrow with Tim. The rumor of an “iPad Mini” has been flying around for quite some time now, but recent events make it seem a great deal more viable as an option for what Apple might actually bring to the market: Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The 7-inch tablet was released during the last holiday season and gained massive popularity, enough to take the No. 2 sales slot behind the iPad for the holidays.

The thing that makes the Kindle Fire a hot item is that it’s an affordable tablet from a known source, costing buyers only $199. The iPad, by contrast, is $499 – a tag that prices a lot of potential iPad owners right out of the market.

With the big success of a low-end tablet in the Kindle Fire, the buzz is that Apple is considering its options, like rolling out a version of the iPad 2 with a smaller, 8GB hard drive (the current smallest is 16GB) that it could sell at a discount. It wouldn’t be quite as low-cost as the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble, but pulling down a sensible iPad to a price of around $249 would surely bring in a whole lot of customers.

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Then there’s the concept of “stickiness,” something that has been discussed regarding Apple’s iPhone. Stickiness refers to forces outside brand loyalty that cause users to keep buying hardware from the same company. When it comes to the iPhone, stickiness is basically content, like music bought through iTunes and apps from the App Store. Bringing an iPad down to a more reasonable price would allow a lot more people who already own iPhones (which they could get subsidized for $200 from carriers in the U.S.) to get iPads, turning them into long-term customers as they purchase apps.

Mostly, though, an affordable iPad would bring a lot more great apps to a lot more people. Apple’s iOS devices continue to lead the field in mobile apps, with the most apps available and a large number of high-quality offerings. If Apple can manage to create a lower-price iPad without sacrificing (too much) power, it’s a win for everyone: consumers can get iPads on the cheap, developers sell more apps, and Apple benefits from the sales both short- and long-term.

So forget about features, Mr. Cook. Let’s see Apple roll out some aggressive pricing and take on the Kindle Fire on its own turf.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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