The iPad’s Price: Unbelievable? Attractive? Still Too High?

By  |  Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 8:39 am

“Apple’s 9.7-inch OLED tablet PC is expected to have a cost of about $1,500-1,700, the report explains, adding that OLED panels are pretty expensive and suggesting prices should only fall in time.”–, 11/19/2009

“As the world waits with bated breath for an Apple tablet, one thing is for certain: the rumored tablet with a 10-inch touchscreen won’t be cheap. Most new-fangled Apple products cost the proverbial arm and leg, and it’s unlikely an Apple tablet (which the blogosphere calls the iSlate) will break this trend…the likely price point is under $1000. If Apple holds true to form, that will mean $999.”–CIO, 1/5/2010

“A key factor for the tablet’s success will be price. Yair Reiner, an analyst for Oppenheimer & Co., said in a research note last month that the tablet would be priced at about $1,000, citing sources. One challenge: Apple’s MacBook laptops start at $999.”–Wall Street Journal, 1/5/2010

“Sure, the tablet we expect Apple to launch on January 27 will probably have more than its share of cool factor. But do you want to spend $1,000 or so for bragging rights?”–PC World, 1/19/2010

“Apple may price the tablet at about $750, putting it between the $399 top-of-the-line iPod Touch and the $999 entry- level MacBook notebook, said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York.”–BusinessWeek, 1/27/2010

I could go on. If there was a genuine surprise at yesterday’s iPad launch, it was the starting price: $499. Apple, in its Apple-esque way, calls tht “unbelievable.” Well, maybe: my jaw didn’t drop, especially since it’s for a model with relatively little storage (16GB) and no 3G wireless. And some of the features that folks expected would add to the sticker price, including a camera and/or an OLED display, aren’t there. It’s one of the rare instances of Apple defeaturing a product to hit a particular price point, which I take as a sign that it does indeed want to sell iPads in vast quantities from the get-go.

But at $499, the iPad is a plausible netbook alternative, or an upgrade from the iPod Touch. And even the top-of-the-line iPad will be $830–well short of the hefty price that everyone “knew” the Apple tablet would go for.

Bottom line: all the pre-analysis of the tablet’s appeal and chances of success predicated on a starting price around a grand turned out to be irrelevant. We need to start over again, and judge the produce Apple announced at the price it’s charging.

What say you?


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10 Comments For This Post

  1. Dave McCall Says:

    I think the price point is pretty good. I like the general concept of it a lot. But I don’t have any problem waiting for a version with a camera in it. It seems like a pretty brash omission without a given reason.

  2. Dan Says:

    No Handwriting recognition is a deal killer for me. I wont be buying this

  3. BeTaRe Says:

    They used all the cameras reserved for the iPad in the Nanos.

  4. Jared Says:

    “But at $499, the iPad is a plausible netbook alternative”? Really, it has no SD slot, not HDMI, no USB and no way to connect it to anything else. But its a good replacement for my equally priced HP Mini 311 with 3 gigs of DDR3 Ram, an 11 inch screen, HDMI out, 3 USB, memory card slot, Wireless N and 3G with a full keyboard, webcam and the ability to multitask. Sure, they sound equal.

    I can not load whatever programs I want, only those in the app store on the iPad. No multitasking so I can only do what they want me to do and when. So if I need to look something up online and then quote it in a word processor its a no go. Its a more expensive version of the CrunchPad or JooJoo or whatever its now called. Why is everyone apologizing for this device? Its a piece of trash. You have to buy a dongle for SD cards. If it had an SD slot then I could see photographers using it.

    If you are dumb enough to get this over a netbook or CULV based ultraportable then you are foolish. I love tablets but this is just an idiotic device and everytime you write about it you are praising it. I just don’t see it.

  5. Harry McCracken Says:

    @jared: Definitely didn’t mean that the iPad is similar to a netbook–they’re radically different in most respects that matter. Just that the price range is similar, and that some of the things they’re intended for (such as casual Web surfing) are the same.

    If you judge the iPad based on specs, it’ll lose every time. What’s interesting about it are the innovations in interface. I’m awfully fond of netbooks, but they do suffer from cramming Windows and QWERTY down into a size that’s too small. The iPad is an attempt to reimagine how a device of this size should work. That’s significant, since we have 20 years of history of other manufacturers building tablets without doing all that much to change their interfaces.

    And I do agree that the lack of built-in SD is a major disappointment.


  6. IcyFog Says:

    The entry level price, $499, is low enough for me to buy an iPad, but not for me. In my opinion it’s great for older children and parents who don’t get computers.
    Oh and I also think that in later models, all the features – camera, handwriting recognition, etc., – that are missing now will be added later.
    @Jared – I get you point: netbooks are more versatile. Yet they also come with a huge handicap – Windows, which is a nonstarter for me. So don’t call me dumb because I choose not to run an inferior operating system.

  7. drew Says:

    I think it is a great price, but I am left like a lot of other people. What would I do with this that I don’t already do with my netbook or desktop. I can see for data entry (such as doing the Census) or reading books.

    Harry, you make one very interesting point; being color, this might be the start of the end monochrome ebook readers?

  8. pcd2k Says:

    After we take into account there is no camera and not being able to run more than one app at a time it’s worth noting the criticisms in the following 2 articles:

    Apple betrays loyal customers with iPad’s micro-SIM slot

    12 key features the iPad lacks

  9. simone Says:

    Well, it’s $10 more than the Kindle with the same screen size and exactly the same price as the infamous and possibly non-existent JooJoo tablet. I’ll leave the feature wars and predictions to others. I will buy an iPad, develop amazing software for it and if the stars align properly, make a fortune. In any event, it will be exciting and fun.

  10. bims Says:

    .) Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs much more consideration. I’ll probably be again to read much more, thanks for that info.

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