The Apple iPad took the world by storm when it launched earlier this year and sales have been very impressive but held back in part because of the relatively high price (up to £600 for the 3G edition). So today’s announcement from T-Mobile and Orange that they will offer heavily subsidised (though sadly not free) iPads with mobile broadband contracts is great news for anyone tempted but the undeniably attractive device but put off by the hefty price tag.
Details are a little sketchy still at this stage (watch out for a follow up news story or a blog when we know more about pricing) but reading between the lines it appears that the two networks will offer the device for a heavily discounted £200 to users signing up for a two year mobile broadband contract with them (presumably at around the £30 a month price point). This is likely to mean that you do pay more over the two years that you would if just buying the iPad outright but you will get the benefit of the mobile broadband subscription on top plus a deeply discounted up front fee. If they can get this launched in time for Christmas it could mean a lot more iPads under the tree this year and a big boost for Orange and T-Mobile as it would appear that at least for know this offer would be exclusive to their networks.
One thing to bear in mind is that the iPad isn’t quite the market leader it was when it launched as a series of Android powered tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab have launched since with more features and higher specs and there are rumours of an iPad 2 next year which could render the old one obsolete but the user still tied in to nearly two years of contract. Never the less this is an exciting development and we certainly hope to see more tablets made available with mobile broadband to join the pay monthly laptop deals we already see regularly.