The Biggest iPad Subsidy Of All: Softbank Gives It Away – What’s Behind It?

Apple iPad

One more operator is offering a reduced price for the iPad if you take it on a two-year contract: Softbank in Japan is preparing to launch a deal that offers users a 16GB iPad for free. That means Softbank joins Orange, T-Mobile and Three in the UK, and Orange France, in offering the device at a discount.

Called “iPad for Everybody,” the Softbank promotion gives away a 16GB iPad if the user signs up to a 25-month contract for ¥4725 ($56; £36) per month.

On one hand this looks like the kind of deal that will encourage buyers who don’t have the funds or inclination to fork out an upfront payment for a device.

But there could be more behind it. It’s interesting to note that Apple’s iPads are making discounted appearances first in those markets where the company is looking to extend its iAd service.

November saw announcements both about iAds starting in Europe by the end of this year, and in Japan early next year – coincidentally when this offer from Softbank is due to commence. The Japanese deal is in partnership with the ad giant Dentsu.

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and others have released quite a few figures for how well the iPad is selling in the U.S. – the most recent being Piper Jaffray estimating that 8.8 iPads were sold every hour on Black Friday.

But we know a lot less about how many iPads have been sold elsewhere.

On the other hand, if Apple is launching iAd for these devices in markets like Europe and Japan, then it will need to demonstrate to the advertisers that there are actually people out there who will be receiving them. Using the operator sales channel, and bundled discounts, could be the trick to getting more iPads out into the market, faster.

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