Apple is planning to release an even cheaper 9.7-inch iPad model, which according to a DigiTimes report published Friday could retail for as low as $259 when it’s released sometime “in the second quarter of 2018.”
Citing “sources from related upstream suppliers,” the report says Apple is looking to position its new tablet as a more cost-conscious offering, which may appeal to those in up-and-coming markets like India, for example, as well as price-oriented consumers and enterprise customers looking to employ many iPads on the cheap.
The device will be manufactured by Apple’s Mac assembly partner, Compal Electronics, DigiTimes noted.
“With the new device, the sources expect the tablet market to witness a new wave of price competition among first-tier players including Samsung Electronics, Amazon, Huawei and Lenovo.”
Earlier this year, Apple released its $329 iPad, which represents the company’s first ‘budget-friendly’ tablet built on the venerable 9.7-inch form-factor. It’s not clear from today’s report if the the newer, cheaper iPad will be sold in addition to the inherent model, or whether it would effectively replace the current model as Apple’s newer, lower-cost tablet offering.
Also unclear is what the new tablet could feature, component wise, in light of its lower price-point. Apple could go all bare-bones and employ generations-old chips and circuitry to help keep costs down, or, it could delight us by delivering a substantial upgrade over the current iPad at an even lower price.
Apple’s iPad business has struggled in recent years, and the company has reported multiple quarters of declining sales between 2014 and present. Its all-time high of 26.4 million units was achieved back in Q1 2014, but sales have declined intermittently prior to jumping earlier this year. The rebound can be attributed, in part, to the success of Apple’s $329 entry-level iPad, as well as its powerful 10.5- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro refreshes.
If true, the report could signify Apple’s desire to undercut the tablet competition and put iPads in the hands of more consumers. Keep in mind that until further notice the contents of this report should be taken with a grain of salt — especially since DigiTimes, historically speaking, is not the most reliable source in the Far East.