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Subsidies: Vodafone And Three Throw Their iPads Into The Ring? O2 Opts Out

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In lead-up to holiday shopping mania in the UK – which informally commences at the beginning of December (but has been trickling through since September) – more developments on Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) iPad subsidies from the mobile operators: Three confirmed that, like Orange and T-Mobile, it will be offering iPads at a discounted rate when bought with data plans. O2 is still ruling itself out. And what about Vodafone?

As of today, Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) has not released a public statement about selling discounted iPad devices, although plenty of publications seem to be reporting that it too will be subsidising Apple’s tablet.

A spokesperson confirmed to that the two companies are in discussions. But interestingly enough, when mocoNews went into a Vodafone retail store in London over the weekend, a salesperson said all customer-facing staff got an email from “the CEO” saying it was speculation and that there were no iPad sales on the cards at this point. “Someone in telesales got something wrong,” he said.

These subsidies are significant because of the bigger business issues behind them: Is Apple getting concerned over sales volumes for its first tablet device? Has it been selling slower in markets where people are used to getting connected devices from operators? And what will this move mean for Apple’s plans to introduce software-based Sims, which would make it easier for users to move from one carrier to another?

Orange now has a landing page for selling the iPad, where you can register your interest for devices. Prices are £199 (for the 16GB edition); £249 (for the 32GB edition); and £349 (6GB), when you take out a two-year plan for £27 (£25 if you are already with Orange).