​Apple defends iPad, tablet turf with price cut as it aims to spur upgrade cycle

The core 9.7-inch iPad will now start at $329. Apple isn't shy about trying to convince tech buyers to upgrade.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

The tablet market may be dragging, plagued with cost competition and becoming cannibalized by 2-in-1 devices, but that doesn't mean Apple wants to cede ground with its iPad.

Apple on Tuesday outlined a special edition Product Red iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, new Apple Watch bands and outlined a new app for Instagram-ish mobile movie editing. But the more strategic move was launching its 9.7-inch iPad at a starting price of $329. The iPad looks like an upgraded iPad Air with a better processor.

The refreshed iPad is also the least expensive way into the iPad lineup now.

Samsung is about to launch its Galaxy Tab S3, which competes with the iPad Pro, for $599.

See also: Seven things you need to know about the new iPad refresh | CNET: Best tablets of 2017 | Should you buy a refurbished iPad? |

In recent quarters, Apple CEO Tim Cook has preached a now-familiar refrain. Yes, iPad sales are down, but there is a replacement cycle to be had. In addition, the iPad is important to businesses and consumers.

The problem is the tablet market is struggling. IDC's data tells the tale. The fact that Amazon's heavily discounted tablets and Huawei are growing tell you just about all you need to know.


So Apple most-popular version of the iPad gets an update and a price cut. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller isn't shy about dropping upgrade cycle hints. "New customers and anyone looking to upgrade will love this new iPad for use at home, in school, and for work," he said in a statement.

The upshot here is that the iPad is a conduit to sell more services for Apple, which needs to keep its installed base. As for the updates to the iPad, Apple's improvements are relatively modest. The win here is the new starting price. The iPad mini gets more capacity for the $399 starting price.

Here's the new iPad lineup and pricing.


Compared to the previous lineup.

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