While iMore has consistently heard the widely anticipated iPad mini would start at around $200-$250 for 8GB, now some pricing information is being reported that pegs the starting price higher -- at $329 (though at what storage capacity is uncertain).This according to Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac, who has an excellent track record when it comes to retail pricing:
Apple’s entry price for its upcoming smaller iPad is between the base model of the new, fifth-generation iPod touch ($299) and the currently shipping WiFi-only 16GB iPad 2 ($399). According to our sources, the base model of the smaller iPad will likely be priced at a minimum of $329 in the United States.
If Apple is going over $300 for the entry level model, and our original information was accurate -- which I believe it was -- then something changed.
One possibility is that Apple has abandoned the 8GB SKU and is starting instead with a 16GB SKU at a $100 higher price point. 8GB would have made for a very low, low end model but may not have ultimately provided a user experience Apple was happy with, especially given the size of TV shows, movies, and even the upcoming iBooks Apple is planning. Also, the $200-$250 8GB iPad mini we heard about was predicated on taking the fight to Amazon's Kindle and Google's Nexus 7, and neither of those devices have taken the world by storm. You can't even buy or realistically use them in many parts of the world. It could simply be that Apple doesn't feel the price pressure they assumed they would in the small tablet space, and so aren't being as aggressive as they may have been had Amazon and Google enjoyed greater success to date.
A less likely possibility is Retina display. Moving from an iPad 2 1024x768 resolution display at an iPhone 3GS 163 ppi to an iPad 3 2048x1536 resolution display and an iPhone 4 326 ppi would increase cost and hence, price point. We've heard both display types were in the pipeline, but Retina still sounded more like next year's model than this year's. Given the display resolution of the new Kindle Fire HD is 1280x800 at 215 ppi, however, moving it up could be seen as a competitive necessity.