There are rumors right now essentially across every single tech and gadget blog on the planet that Apple is preparing to release (maybe, possible, not likely,) a set of three iPad models for early in the year 2012. Let's think for a minute about what would happen if this were true: three models, one for each segment: high-end, mid-range, and ultra-cheap - this last segment being for schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations. Apple could be set for a loss-leader power play inside the next 12 months: will they risk it?
Think about what Apple did with the iPhone 4S release and the subsequent price changes on the iPhone models: iPhone 4S is premium, iPhone 4 is for the everyman (look how that turned out), and the iPhone 3GS is free: just as long as you're willing to pay for the data/voice plan you need to run it. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but since the context calls for it: I sort of called it nearly on the button with a column by the name of Why the iPhone 4S will be Free.
What if there's a free iPad, just so long as you sign up for a data plan with the carrier it's tied to? Obviously this wouldn't work with the non-3G versions of the iPad -- or since we're so close to it now, the 4G model that's inevitably going to come someday. A free iPad on contract: how many people would pick up such a thing? That begs the question: how many of you find it necessary to have your iPad connected to the mobile web?
If there were such a thing as a $300 iPad with no contract: perhaps one with as basic a set of specs as there could be, with no gigantic amount of storage, HD display, or mobile web, would you buy it? How about if that $300 iPad was the remaining stock Apple has set aside of the original iPad?