How low can they go?
Judging by the gasp audible in the video of Apple's launch event last month, most people were surprised at the Apple iPad's low price.
And now word is leaking from the Wall Street Journal that Apple is willing to take the price lower, if circumstances call for it.
What would those circumstances be?
The first is a bit obvious. Let's pretend the iPad is a dud – not so hard to do, if one puts much stock in a report from late last week, which found that most people, while stoked about the tablet, don't really want to buy one. If Apple, despite the Steve Jobs reality distortion field, can't get people to pony up $500 for a device no one knows how to carry, or what to do with, the svelte screens would languish on brushed aluminum shelves. Apple could drop the iPad's price $100 or $200 to stimulate demand.
The second scenario – and more likely, if you ask us – is that Apple somehow has succeeded in convincing consumers that they have need of this "third device," and the thing sells like hotcakes. It'll be popular with the early-adopter and the tech neophyte, "I use it to get to the Googles" crowds. As it did with the iPhone, Apple could drop the price in an effort to make the iPad appeal to the masses (and all the smart consumers out there). A move like that could solidify the iPad's ascent to an iPhone-esque lock on the tablet market.
A third possibility, one backed by news out of Austria, is that wireless carriers will begin offering subsidies for the iPad, provided users sign service contracts. AppleInsider points to the rumor from TamsIJungle:
Hutchison Austria will be the first Austrian carrier to bundle the iPad. We will do so via our long-established laptop bundle, which offers customers a 333euro rebate if they agree to a 2yr contract offering 5GB of data for 29.90euro.
As the first iPads sold in Austria won’t have 3G radios, we will bundle the device with a Huawei modem called i-Mo. This device is a “wireless wifi router”, creating a personal WiFi for the iPad.
What's all this mean for you, dear reader? Wait.
Wait for that price drop. Wait for the software updates. Wait for people to develop cool new apps for it. Wait for someone to give it to you as a gift. Wait for iPad 2.0. Wait for it to possibly fail in epic fashion. Whatever your reason for waiting, even if a price drop doesn't come, you'll let a whole generation of users work out the bugs and frustrations for you.
Well, will you wait? Or must you have an iPad on day-one? Leave a comment below, and keep up with us on Twitter.