Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The world's first subsidized iPads

November 22, 2010: 9:20 AM ET

Apple's tablets will reportedly sell in the U.K. for more than 60% off. Could it happen here?

Americans dreaming of an iPad Chrismas will be watching closely to see if AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) follow the lead of Orange and T-Mobile (DT), two carriers authorized to sell 3G iPads in the United Kingdom.

On Monday, Everything Everywhere, a joint venture of the two firms, announced that it will be selling -- for the first time anywhere -- a subsidized version of Apple's (AAPL) tablet computer. Customers who agree to a 18- or 24-month contract will be able to pick up a 16-GB Wi-Fi+3G iPad for considerably less than its current £529 ($845) sticker price.

According to several reports, iPads purchased on these terms could cost as little as £200 ($320), or 62% off.

If the U.S.-based carriers were to offer similar deals, you might be able to pick up a $629 iPad for less than $240.

Of course you'd also locked into 24 monthly payments of between $14.99 (250 MB/mo.) and $25 (2 GB/mo.) for your 3G access. But cellphone operators know that most customers are willing to agree to make payments in the future if they can take him a shiny new toy right now.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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