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Budget Android models dominate the holiday discounts

by Doug Drinkwater

November 24 2011

Walmart is one of many retailers promising to cut prices of TVs, laptops and tablets
Walmart is one of many retailers promising to cut prices of TVs, laptops and tablets

In the week leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, brick-and-mortar and online retailers have promised to to offer a raft of Android tablets at seriously attractive prices.

Black Friday discounts encompass all kinds of consumer devices, from new sofas and microwaves to flat-screen TVs and headphones.

However, following the launch of the first models in 2010, a number of tablets are now becoming the subject of significant price-cuts in the US and in Europe.

The deals

At Best Buy in the US, consumers will be able to get their hands on Acer’s under-rated 7-inch Iconia A100 (8GB of memory) for just $189.99, or pick up the original Asus Transformer (16GB memory) on an early bird special for only $249.99 (or for £299.99 through HMV in the UK). Toshiba’s Thrive tablet, meanwhile, can be purchased for a reasonable $279.99 at Best Buy.

There have also been big reductions for HP’s discontinued TouchPad and RIM’s PlayBook.

HP's 32GB TouchPad is being offered for $149 at Best Buy, but there’s a catch – you only get the deal when purchasing a HP PC, while a host of American retailers (including Best Buy, Office Depot, RadioShack, Staples and Wal-Mart) are to sell the PlayBook for $199.99, which is a $200 reduction on the suggested retail price.

Discounted entry-level Android tablets have not been hard to find, and there are plenty of attractive sub-$100 deals for those looking to get an inexpensive Google-powered slate.

At Fred's, Coby’s 8-inch Kyros tablet will be offered for $99.95 (it costs four cents more at Shopko) over the holiday period, while Leader International’s i7 tablet, which runs Android 2.2, will sell for $99.99 at Kmart.

It is a similar story at Kohl's, Shopko and Toys R Us. Kohl's is selling Pandigital’s 7-inch Android tablet for $139.99, while the Sylvania 7-inch Android tablet is to retail for just $74.99 at Toys R Us and $80 at Sears.

However, while most of these deals have centred on a host of low-price, low-spec Android tablets, two US retailers have tried to force some interesting deals with the iPad 2 and highly-rated 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab.

Retailer Meijer has 190 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, and has announced that it will offer a free $80 store gift card to anyone who picks up the $499 Wi-Fi 16GB iPad 2. Elsewhere, reports indicate that HH Gregg will bundle a free keyboard dock with the Galaxy Tab for $499.99.

Retailers haven’t been the only ones looking to grab a slice of the Black Friday action, with Verizon Wireless offering  the original Xoom tablet for $199.99 (when purchased with a two-year broadband plan).

Tablets are most-wanted for the holiday season

The plethora of tablet discounts is not surprising, certainly to market researchers who revealed that the mobile devices were high-up on consumer wish-lists for the holiday period.

Just last week, Retrevo discovered that tablets are the most desired item over Thanksgiving, with the iPad 2 and Kindle Fire sharing the attention at 10% each.

One research group, meanwhile, has even doubted whether discount deals are just confined to Black Friday and Cyber Monday nowadays, thanks to the ‘Groupon effect’.

Steve Koenig, of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) was speaking at last week’s CES Unveiled in London, where he said that deals using terms like ‘Black Friday’ and 'Cyber Monday' are often appearing in January or March. Furthermore, Koenig said that Google searches over 2010 and 2011 have indicated that consumers are now searching for ‘Black Friday’, and related searches, throughout the year now, and not just in late November.

Koenig puts a lot of this down to the rise of Groupon, and its range of daily discounts. “Customers are increasingly attracted to these kind of lightening, or timed, deals”, said Koenig.

With this, the CEA has also said that consumers are now finding out about deals in new ways, with 25% of discounts discovered through social networks and 38% unearthed through email attachments.

Apple and Amazon

Retailers have been trying to cash-in on this new trend of consumer buying, and earlier in the week both Apple and Amazon announced their plans for Black Friday via email blasts.

Amazon’s deals on tablets appear to be elusive -  perhaps down in part to its provision of the aforementioned ‘lightning deals’. These discounted deals are for a limited time only, and prices on models are unavailable until an item goes 'live'. The e-commerce giant is, however, offering some smartphones for $0.01, providing you sign up to a two-year contract,

Apple had been coy on what deals it would be providing, until industry sources received leaked documents outlining modest discounts of up to $60 for the iPad 2 and $40 for the iPod Touch.

Black Friday is coming to Europe

The CEA said last week that the trend for Black Friday has now ventured over the UK and other parts of Europe, and initial signs would seem to indicate that. Earlier this week, leading UK retailers Currys and PC World announced plans to offer over one million English pounds ($1.55 million) off products from Thursday 24th to Cyber Monday (28th).

The retailers, part of the Dixons retail group, expect these discounts to result in 25% extra visitors coming to their website, having experienced a similar 15% growth last year. An internal study from the retailers found the iPad 2 to be the most wanted gadget, followed by Samsung’s D8000 Smart TV.

Elsewhere in the UK, Comet boasted that it was offering discounts up to half-price on a ‘five day frenzy’, although closer inspection actually revealed minor £10 ($15) discounts off laptops, notebooks and the mysterious IT Works TM701 tablet (£119.99). This tablet runs Android 2.0, has 4GB of memory and has an entry-level 7-inch 800 x 480 resolution display.

TabTimes' top five tablet deals for Black Friday:

Acer Iconia A100 (8GB) - $189.99 (Best Buy)

Asus Transformer (16GB) -  $249.99 (Best Buy)

RIM PlayBook (16GB) - $199.99 (various)

Apple iPad 2 (16GB) - $499.99 but with free $80 gift card (Meijer)

Sylvania 7-inch Android tablet (2GB) - from $74.99 (Toys R Us, Sears)

 

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