Sony is kicking off the New Year with a tactic its Android tablet competitors used often in 2011 — a price break that knocks $100 off its Tablet S models. The 16 GB version of the Tablet S is now $399.99 while the 32 GB version drops from $599.99 to $499.99.
Apple established a beachhead starting price of $499 for its iPad which, save for a brief holiday promotion, has remained since its debut in 2010. Android competitors and others (HP’s ill-fated TouchPad and RIM’s struggling PlayBook) have for the most part tried and failed to compete with the iPad on an equal price footing, resorting to discounts and accessory bundles to make their tablets more appealing.
HP started discounting the TouchPad from $499 a few months after its release last year, eventually dropping the price to $99 in a blow out of inventory that finally resulted in strong sales as the device was being phased out.
RIM is moving aggressively to try and move PlayBooks, offering all three models 16, 32 and 64GB for $299 each until February 4. Why a consumer would opt to buy a model with less internal storage for the same price seems problematic, but maintaining enough PlayBook inventory at this point would be a problem RIM would love to have so perhaps it isn’t concerned if demand for the 64GB model spikes.
Amazon has done more to disrupt tablet pricing long term, than HP’s limited time $99 TouchPad offer. Analyst’s believe the online retail giant is selling the 7-inch Kindle Fire at a slight loss for $199, a price that rocketed the device to Amazon’s best-seller list. Amazon says it’s sold “millions” of Kindle Fires since the tablet was released in November of last year.
Meanwhile, Sony hopes to make waves with the new Tablet S, a high res 1280 x 800 pixel), 9.4-inch Android tablet that is slated for an upgrade soon to the newest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich.