iPad 3 could be pricier: report

If you want to believe mysterious pricing sheets posted to Chinese social-networking sites, then Apple's next iPad could cost between US$70 and US$80 more than the iPad 2.

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

MacRumors points to a Chinese 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 the iPad 3. The big takeaway: the newer models will be between US$80 and US$70 more expensive than their predecessors.

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

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 rumours — specifically ones from Taiwanese tech news site Digitimes — claiming that 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 the 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 cheaper tablets running Google's Android operating system. In the US, Amazon 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 the fact that at US$899, the top-of-the-line iPad 3 would come in at US$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 cannibalise on its Mac sales, but also that this is not always a bad thing. Nonetheless, having the two lines reaching the same price points would likely cause a stir.

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 popped up over the weekend suggested that initial deliveries of the new device are already on their way to the US from overseas factories.


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