The iPad 2 was released on March 11, 2011 for $499. Apple reduced its price to $399 in March 2012, and they announced this week that it will continue to be available at that price, probably until at least late 2014.
Steve Jobs proudly presented the iPad 2 to the world, in his second-to-last keynote, proclaiming that it had a whopping 65,000 apps.1 It was the first iPad to offer Verizon 3G, cameras, Smart Covers, and GarageBand, and it shipped with iOS 4.3: not only did this predate iCloud, but it predated Siri, which debuted seven months later on the cutting-edge iPhone 4S.2
BlackBerry was still a month away from releasing the PlayBook, HP was preparing to launch the TouchPad shortly after that, and the Kindle Fire was still six months out. Google was busy finishing the first version of Google+. President Obama hadn’t yet been re-elected, Osama Bin Laden was still alive, and most of the Arab Spring hadn’t happened yet.
It was a while ago.3
Not only will the iPad 2 likely remain for sale for another year, but Apple also repackaged its hardware into smaller dimensions just last year to make the first iPad Mini, which is also still for sale for at least another year. And the first-generation Mini is perfectly fine for most usage by most users, just like the iPad 2. I wouldn’t be surprised if the iPad 2 and iPad Mini both ran iOS 8 next year and continued to be useful well into 2015 — in fact, I’d be surprised if they didn’t.
Rather than asking how Apple can keep selling the relatively ancient iPad 2 at just 20% less than its original price, maybe we should be asking why all tablets aren’t expected to be fully useful for over three years after their launch.
Or maybe Apple should be concerned that most people are using their iPads for such mundane tasks that years-old hardware is still adequate.