Apple unveiled a lot of new hardware today. From the new thinner and lighter iPad Air to the iPad Mini with Retina display, from updated MacBook Pro laptops to free iLife, iWork and OS X Mavericks updates, it was a jam-packed 90 minute presentation.
So here's what the new iPad line-up looks like. The iPad Air, with a 9.7-inch Retina display and A7 processor, is $499. The updated iPad Mini, with a 7.9-inch Retina display and A7 processor is $399. That's $70 more than before, but the old first-gen iPad Mini is still hanging around at a reduced price of $299. Decent little tablet, decent (not that little) price.
Also still hanging around, improbably, is the iPad 2. It still has an A5 chip pushing bits around and what today is nowhere near top-of-the-line 1024x768 display. And it's had its price reduced to… nope. No price reduction. The iPad 2 is still around, and it's still $399.
It's no shock to see the iPad 2 still around. It's popular as a less expensive full-size iPad for education, or for people who just can't swallow putting down $499 plus tax for a current generation full-size iOS tablet. What is shocking is that the iPad 2, now two years old, is still selling for $399.
Technology moves at the speed light these days. A two-year-old iPhone 4S costs $200 less than the new iPhone 5s. The iPad 2 at $399 is just $100 less than the newest iPad Air, despite being not two, but three generations removed.
What makes it even worse is that the iPad Mini with Retina display, which has the same chips and likely a more expensive screen than the iPad Air (the Mini's Retina display has the same pixel density as the iPhone, so much smaller pixels but just as many as the Air) is priced the same as the iPad 2. They're both $399. So you can get a big iPad with an old processor, a smidgen of RAM, and a 30-pin dock connector (oh lord…), or you can get one that's slightly smaller with a screen packed with four times the pixels, a modern A7 processor, a bucket of RAM, better Wi-Fi, a thinner build, Lightning connector, and so on.
Just know that I'll brand you as an idiot if you buy an iPad 2 at $399.
It's the same price, you choose. Just know that I'll brand you as an idiot if you buy an iPad 2 at $399. I don't care that it has a bigger screen. So do cheap 15-inch Windows laptops, but you won't be happy with one of those over the long term either.
A bigger and crappier screen and compatibility with your 30-pin dock accessories aren't worth the price.
Here's the thing, though. If Apple had cut the price of the iPad 2 again, say to $299, or even $329, just to keep some price separation between it and the newly-reduced first generation iPad Mini, I might not be so incensed. As it is, this is a boggling move, or lack thereof.
You can say all you want about positioning the iPad 2 as making the $100 step up to the vastly, overwhelmingly, hilariously more powerful, lighter, and all-around-better seem like an amazing deal, but that's like pricing a base trim Toyota Corolla $10,000 higher so the top-of-the-line Avalon seems more reasonable.
I get keeping the iPad Air priced where it is. I get dropping the first generation iPad Mini by only $30 - Apple's margins were never as great with it as they were with the full-size iPad. I even get increasing the price of the iPad Mini with Retina Display to a full $399 - that screen isn't cheap, nor are all of the up-to-date bits behind it, and Apple took enough of a beating from analysts and the market for the iPad Mini's suspected reduced margins.
But the iPad 2 at $399? That's just obscene.