Despite iPad mania, sales of 3G versions will be slow

28 May 2010

The launch of the iPad in the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland may have led to frenzied crowd queuing, but analysts say the price premium for 3G connectivity will dampen ardour for that branch of the iPad family.

Long queues snaked outside Apple stores in these countries today. One million of the devices were sold within 28 days of the device’s US debut.

In France, models are selling for between €499 and €699, with the 3G models going for between €599 and €799.

However, the success of the device – according to one analyst – will be largely due to the affordability of the Wi-Fi only iPads, with buyers shying away from the 3G versions.

“Clearly, the majority of the 1 million iPads that Apple reported sold in the US by the end of April are Wi-Fi-only devices,” says Gavin Byrne, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

Given the relatively limited use case for the iPad outside the home, the price premium for 3G connectivity and the ability to tether the iPad to a mobile phone via Wi-Fi, Informa believes that sales of 3G iPads will be low in the longer term.

Nevertheless, Byrne says, mobile operators are enthusiastic about the iPad. A number of mobile operators, even outside the 19 countries where Apple have confirmed an iPad launch, have secured supplies of micro-SIMs.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The Apple iPad

Watch a video review of the iPad here: icon: launch video

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years