This holiday season everyone is looking for a deal on one thing or another, and if you look hard enough you’ll find discounted iMacs, Macbooks, laptops, hard drives, monitors, and Cinema Displays. The one thing you won’t find a deal on this holiday season is an iPad, you’ll pay full price for one of those, unless you live in Japan, there you can get one for free.
Yes I said “free”! There are a few stipulations, but in essence, the iPad is free, so let’s go over the details. Softbank is giving away free 16GB 3G iPads with a two-year data plan. The data plan isn’t cheap by US standards at 4725 Yen, or $56 USD, a month, which is considerably more than the AT&T offering of $25 for 2GB. Now I would assume if you just purchased a data plan in Japan from Softbank it would still cost you $56 a month so the iPad is FREE.
If you purchased a 3G iPad in the States for $629, and paid for the data plan for 2 years at $25 a month it would end up costing you $1229 not including tax, while the same iPad and data plan would cost you $1344 in Japan. Taking into consideration the cost of living is considerably more in Japan (my brother lived in Tokyo for a year) I would say this is a pretty good deal for the people of Japan.
Honestly, I’m not sure why this surprised me when I learned about the subsidy in Japan, and the more I think about it, I’m astonished that AT&T and other carriers haven’t come up with some subsidized plan in exchange for a two, three or even four year data plan commitment.
Would you be willing to commit to a data plan contract in exchange for a “free” iPad?