The two year tablet - will Orange's iPad deal appeal?
Orange are attempting to stir up the tablet market by announcing the iPad will be available on contract in the near future. Now that a mainstream tablet market seems inevitable, the aim of the game is to lower the entry price of the market leader, and tie in users to their network. Orange will be the first to offer the iPad on contract; currently users can purchase monthly allowances from several operators.
The 24 month contract for the iPad 3G lowers the price for the 16GB entry-level model to £199, instead of £529 for the contract-free version. A 32GB unit on a two year contract is £249 while the 64GB version is £349, which is half price. The monthly tariff itself costs £25 (£27 for new customers) and allows 1G anytime usage, 1GB 'quiet-time' usage (usage between midnight and 4pm), and unlimited access to BT Openzone WiFi.
So the iPads are dirt cheap, but what's the catch, if any? Well, there's more than one. The Orange contract is hardly a money saver when compared to the alternative; unless you are going to hammer the 3G data and rely exclusively on BT Openzone for WiFi, the maths doesn't stack up:
• A 16GB iPad for £529 plus 3GB per month on O2/Orange/Vodafone (10GB per month on Three) for 24 months = £529 + (£15 x 24) = £889
• A 16GB iPad for £529 plus 1GB per month on Three/Orange from 24 months = £529 + (£7.50 x 24) = £709
Compare that to Orange's offer:
• A 16GB iPad for £199 plus 2GB per month (1GB 'quiet-time' usage only) for new customers = £199 + (£27 x 24) = £847 (existing customers pay £799)
There's also an issue with the timing of this news. As we all know, two years is a very long time in Apple's world; a new iPad is likely to be announced in January/February and available from March/April. Orange have yet to announce when these new contracts are available from, but just the month after next, there's no saying what price the iPad 2 will be, or whether the price of the current model will drop to accommodate a new version - or even if Apple will continue the line at all.
In other words, there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to buy into such a long-term tariff at this time, certainly not when further releases and price changes are due in the next few months.