iPad Debut at Target? Nice at the Right Price

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The Apple iPad will make an appearance at the budget behemoth on Oct. 3, notably in time for Christmas shopping, according to the blog Engadget.

However, the price still appears to be $599.99, which seems strange for a well-known discount store like Target. The store could plan a major discount in the coming months, most likely just before or on Black Friday.

And, if so, it makes sense that Apple would launch such a strategy just as it’s about to unveil its newer iPad models--likely at a higher cost.

Apple has made the iPhone 4 available at Walmart, which it sells for $197, about $2 less than at the Apple Store. This shows that an iPad price drop wouldn't be an unusual move for Apple.

However, the price of the iPad would have to drop to $499 or less for a company to justify buying something with technology already on the wane. Such a discount--if employees are willing to brave the crowds and possible trampling--could prove attractive to small businesses, especially now that the iPad has surprised Apple and IT professionals by insinuating itself into the business world.

The handy tablet with its user-friendly, touchscreen interface and long battery life make it an enticing buy for sales professionals and anyone dealing with the public, as well as useful for back office inventory. Now with an iOS 4.2 upgrade, the iPad will be ready for everyday clerical use with filesharing, wireless printing, and multitasking.

Many are already anticipating the new, smaller iPad--which some hope will include FaceTime and front- and rear-facing cameras, which would be useful for office videoconferencing. Others hope for more than 256MB of memory and a slimmer, lighter design that would make it more competitive in the computer tablet market.

Not surprisingly, the Oct. 3 date also comes close to when Samsung will be rolling out its Galaxy Tab in Europe and the United States. The Galaxy Tab, labeled the first real iPad competition for Apple, is a slimmer, lighter design which offers everything the new iPad is rumored to have: a smaller 7-inch screen, front- and rear-facing cameras, 512 MB of memory, and Adobe Flash support--and all at only 0.84 pounds. It also has Android 2.2, with access to the apps on the Android Market.

With all its capabilities and rising use of the Android platform in business, Apple should see the Tab as a worthy competitor for the business market.

However, if Apple is planning to offer its newer iPads at that time, it would be an amazing, and top-secret, head-to-head marketing plan--which is why it’s more likely that Apple is merely trying to unload the older product at a lower price before it announces the newer model.

I could be wrong, but Apple has been so quiet about this future product launch, and rumors have said the newer, smaller iPad will likely be for sale next year, long after last-minute Christmas shopping. Still, whatever Apple’s plan, if Target can offer a decent discount on the $599.99 iPad, it’s worth a look by anyone thinking of using the tablet.

Reach or follow Barbara E. Hernandez on Twitter @bhern.

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