iPad 2 now a steal at $429, shedding $150 in RRP overnight

While most of the attention today is focused squarely on the new third-generation iPad which was revealed overnight the huge price reduction on its iPad 2 predecessor signals Apple’s intentions and ability to take on the expanding lower-to-mid end of the tablet market with its hugely successful former flagship tablet.

Starting at $429 RRP for the newly discounted iPad 2 (Wi-Fi) which is now only available in one size (with 16GB built-in storage) the entry-level iPad 2 has had its price slashed $150 overnight which on any other day would itself be a major tech headline.

It’s not exactly Kindle Fire territory (Amazon’s US-only Android tablet retails in the States for a stunning US$199 reportedly a number of dollars less than it costs to actually manufacture the device) but Apple has still aggressively broken the $500 barrier in one move bringing the iPad — still seen as an unnecessary expensive gadget by many despite its allure and success — within reach of a lot more shoppers than it previously had. To date entering the tablet market and not spending over $500 meant your only serious options were Android or RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook. Not any more.

The 3G 16GB model could arguably be seen as even better value from a certain point of view at least. At $569 it’s had $160 trimmed off its RRP overnight and while it can’t offer equally fast connectivity as the somewhat compromised new 4G iPad (which isn’t tailored *yet* to Telstra’s 4G network) neither is it similarly hobbled in any way in terms of its 3G support.  

Of course a lot of this needs to be taken into perspective and balanced against the considerable upgrades on offer with the new iPad. The iPad 2 is older hardware which in many ways has been showing its age and feature shortcomings against Android competitors for some time now although it’s protected by the robust health of its popularity and app ecosystem.

And even the new third-gen model starts at only $539 ($40 cheaper than yesterday’s iPad 2) meaning that extra $110 you’re paying over the new iPad 2 pricing is buying you a heck of a lot: 2048 x 1536 Retina display faster A5X processor 5MP rear-facing camera faster mobile connectivity…

One year of future-proofing in other words.