UPDATE: Literally as we published this post, Orange’s press office got back to us with confirmation of forthcoming subsidized plans and sent us this press release. Specific pricing isn’t mentioned, nor is a solid timeline, but it does make reference to “more affordable prices when purchased with a data service plan” for iPad Wi-Fi + 3G models arriving sometime in “the coming months.”
As we gear up for Black Friday discount deals, it looks like hopeful iPad shoppers might soon be getting an unusual price-break of their own, at least in the U.K. British site MarketingWeek is reporting that Orange and T-Mobile wireless ISP parent company Everything Everywhere has said it will announce plans today to offer the tablet device at a discount in exchange for a long-term contract.
The subsidized iPad (3G version) is expected to be available for around £200 (just under $320 at current exchange rates) for customers that are willing to sign an 18-24 month contract. An unsubsidized Wi-Fi + 3G iPad currently starts at £529 (~$844 U.S.). Orange and T-Mobile were both contacted for further comment, but neither company returned our inquiries in time for publication.
This move from full-price to subsidized discounts would mirror the iPhone’s pricing history. As you may remember, Apple’s first mobile device was originally offered with a hefty price tag, then discounted before being offered at an even lower price thanks to a subsidy from AT&T (s t).
9to5Mac points out that O2, a competing UK mobile company, recently started offering a deal with Xbox(s msft)/Playstation 3 (s sne) models, so the iPad subsidy may be a move from Everything Everywhere to provide a similar deal of its own to attract new customers.
Could this contract-based discount also make its way to the U.S.? Unfortunately, we’re not currently hearing any news of the subsidy being on this side of the pond. But competition is heating up as wireless ISPs fight to offer the growing base of tablet customers their mobile data plans. Verizon (s vz) and AT&T are now both vying for iPad data plan customers. If Apple allows it, there’s no reason why both wouldn’t jump at the chance to lock customers in to longer term plans here on this side of the pond, too. There’s already a price war being waged for Galaxy Tab customers. One focused on the iPad could soon follow.
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