So the iPad 2 is out, and is thinner, lighter, and faster. “It’s 33 per cent thinner and up to 15 per cent lighter,” says Apple. And the reviewers by and large seem to be pleased with the device, just as the investor community seems to be happy about Steve Jobs making an appearance for showcasing the device.

The new iPad comes around a year after the first-generation iPad was launched, which is in keeping with Jobs tradition of one device a year, literally, in a category. (There have been five iPhone devices in as many years, since the first one was launched in 2007, provided we care to count the CDMA iPhone.)

The most significant thing about iPad 2 remains pricing, at USD 499 for the entry-level option.

While the pricing details pertaining to India are yet to come in, the US pricing can be a good pointer. Given that the entry-level iPad 2 is priced at USD 499, and considering that first-generation iPad is now priced at USD 399 and sells for Rs 24,500 in India, the India pricing for iPad 2 would logically work out to be 30,640. While that may not be exactly how Apple could be working out the pricing, and there could be a premium added up, this still may be seen as a calculated guess.

Apple won’t not rubbishing the potential that India’s nascent tablet market could suddenly grow, and would not be taking chances, even on the pricing front, despite the huge brand leverage it enjoys. Even with the first generation iPad, it had aggressively priced the device, starting at Rs 27,900 for the Wi-Fi only entry model and has now cut that down by Rs 3,400. The device is now priced at Rs 24,500. The entry-level 3G iPad is now priced at Rs 31,900, which is lower than the Samsung’s Galaxy Tab at around Rs 36,000 and Dell’s Streak at Rs 33,000. Having said that, it looks inevitable that Samsung and Dell would be dropping their prices sooner than later.

Purely on the price front, the only tablet vendor to compete better with Apple has been Gurgaon/NCR-based Olive Telecom, which has been revising the price for its Olive Pad tablet downwards periodically, and which currently has a Web pricing of Rs 21,500.

Any pricing in the vicinity of 30,000 would make iPad 2 a compelling proposition for tablet buyers in India, and will most certainly put a lot of pressure on other tablet vendors, some of whom could find it difficult to match Apple’s pricing simply because they don’t yet have a comparable economy of scale that Apple enjoys, riding shipment of nearly 15 million devices for iPad.

Stores in Bangalore said they would be getting the pricing details within the next two weeks. And they sounded confident that the stocks would be arriving over the next couple of months. If so, that would be a significant development, given that iPad 1 arrived in India after a lag of over nine months. Will iPad 2 come quicker?

(As published in Deccan Chronicle, March 10, 2011; header changed.)

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