Technophiles and consumers alike have been eagerly waiting for the launch of new iPad in the UAE, but they will have to wait a bit more as the major retailers expect that third-generation tablet will hit the shelves as early as by third week of March.
The new iPad went on sale in the United States and nine other countries on Friday. Apple will make the tablet computer available in 25 additional countries, mostly in Europe, a week later. Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong are the only Asian countries where new iPad was launched on Friday. “We expect the new iPad to be released here in the UAE by the end of week 3 or early week 4 of March,” Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer of Jacky’s Electronics, told Khaleej Times.
Other major electronics retailers in the UAE are reluctant to give any launch date and consider it appropriate to wait and see the developments in the US and Europe. “At this point, it would be difficult to give a launch date. When the iPad 2 was launched the lag between the worldwide launch and our date was only a few weeks. But it does look, initially at least, like Apple has undershot the demand for this in its’ first wave markets, which would have a ripple effect for us. We’ll have to wait and see on this one,” Sean Connor, General Manager, Plug-Ins, said.
Emax Chief Executive, Neelesh Bhatnagar also gave a very cautious response on the availability of new-generation iPad in the emirate. “We are waiting for further details from Apple distributers in the region,” he said. The prices for new iPads are expected to remain volatile in the short term due to its low supply initially, but retailers expect no major premium on the new Apple product. “We expect the price to be more or less the same as in the United States,” Bhatnagar said.
The third-generation tablet, the first iPad launch after Steve Jobs who expired on October 5, will be available in four categories. The basic model, with WiFi only, will cost $499 while prices for 4G-enabled version ranging from $629 to $829 in the US. “We expect price points on the official launch to be very close, if not the same as the prices in the US. It’s impossible to say with absolute certainty but I think based on previous launches, we can say with a fair amount of confidence, that there won’t be a significant price disparity,” Connor said.
Panjabi expressed the different view and said short-term price volatility is expected due to low supply of new Apple product. “Managing the supply and demand equilibrium has always been a challenge for any Apple product at launch, which is also why we’ve advised buyers who want to buy the new iPad from local retailers or websites to wait at least a month if they can before purchasing any stock as prices may be volatile in the short-term,” Panjabi said.
“In the long-term, the prices will stabilise and should be more realistic by then. In any case, based on our past experiences, customers were willing to pay a premium for a new edition of iPad as stocks will be in short supply initially and most stocks available in the UAE will be coming in from secondary sources, not directly from Apple to the region,” he added.
iPad 2 prices fall
Major retailers in the UAE expect a price reduction on previous iPad models to clear the stocks before the launch of new tablet in the country. Apple has already announced $100 off the old price as basic model now costs $399 and cellular version, working with 3G networks, costs $529. “It is likely to see a price reduction on the older models when the iPad3 hits shelves across the GCC,” Bhatnagar said.
“We’ve already seen price drops in the iPad 2 pricing in preparation for the worldwide launch. Everyone is cleaning up what’s left of the iPad 2 inventory so it’s a great time to buy one if you’ve been in the market and aren’t quite ready to step into the third generation iPad,” Connor said. Panjabi also echoed the same views. “The first generation iPad isn’t sold by Apple or most retailers anymore while the iPad 2 pricing is being re-adjusted as Apple announced a price drop for this.”
Robust demand seen
Apple, with 57 per cent market share of tablets worldwide, is likely to remain a dominant tablet player. It shipped around 57 million tablets in fourth quarter of 2011 and expects a high demand for new iPad. “We expect huge demand for the new iPad like most of Apple’s newly launched products. We expect that demand will remain robust and Apple will still remain the dominant player in the tablet market.
“There will be many existing iPad owners who will opt to upgrade to the new iPad but we also expect many first time buyers to buy a tablet for the first time, especially considering Apple has announced a price drop on the iPad 2. Tablets sales are expected to increase to 326 million by 2015, according to research firm Gartner. The iPad competes with Samsung Galaxy, Amazon Kindle Fire and Motorola Xyboard, among others.
Connor said: “I expect, with the upgraded retina display and the new software enhancements the iPad 3 will resonate well with customers. I think customers will enjoy all of the upgrades on the device and as usual with this product demand will outpace supply in the initial few months.” Bhatnagar said iPads have changed the face of personal technology and renovated the concept of handheld technology. “The response has been tremendous. Tablet sales have been on the rise lately and with the launch of the brand new iPad3 the market share of tablets will see a growth,” he concluded.