Currently, there are three iPad models: iPad mini, iPad 2, and iPad with Retina display. Their prices start at $330, $400, and $500 respectively. While iPad mini and iPad with Retina display are relatively new products (they're both only a year old), iPad 2 has been sold for the last three years. This is something that Apple has done for a while with their iPhone line. But, with iPhone 5c, they've shown that low-end products don't necessarily have to be old products.
Meanwhile, Apple is losing some mindshare to Google's Nexus 7, a perfectly good tablet that starts at just $230. That tablet's display is - while a bit smaller - well into retina territory (an attribute that iPad mini doesn't yet possess).
Apple has shown that retina screens aren't necessary to sell tablets with the sale of the non-retina iPad mini and iPad 2. But they are great if you're willing to pay a little more. That's why I don't think that Apple should ditch the non-retina iPad. They just need to keep those models fresh like they did with iPhone 5c. Here's an iPad lineup that reflects some of these ideas:
- $500 - iPad S - A7X - 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
- $400 - iPad C - A7 - 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
- $350 - iPad Mini S - A6X - 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
- $250 - iPad Mini C - A6 - 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
The "S" iPad models would have retina displays and aluminium backs. The "C" models would have regular density displays and colored plastic backs just like iPhone 5c. "S" models could also include some new features like an improved camera and Touch ID while the "C" models would lack those features.
The price of the cellular antenna option is also too expensive; it currently costs $130. On the Nexus 7 that upgrade only costs $80. I think asking $100 for an LTE antenna is a bit more reasonable. If they could match Google's $80 that would be great, but I'm not holding my breathe. Storage upgrades would continue to cost $100 per tier.
When the iPad was first released, no one could compete with Apple on price. Companies like Motorola and Samsung struggled to get their tablets below $700. But times have changed and the competition is making great products at low prices. Apple has dipped its toes into the low end market by keeping the iPad 2 on the shelf and introducing the iPad mini. But it needs to take a real stake in that part of the market if it wants to keep its tablet market share high.
And it definitely would. The iPad continues to have the best tablet apps. If Apple makes its iPad even more appealing to a customer's wallet, that customer would have no reason to look at the competition.