Apple today said it would start selling the new iPad in China starting Friday, July 20.
As analysts expected, the move came quickly after Apple settled a dispute with a Chinese company over the iPad name.
The tablet, which Apple launched in the U.S. in March, will be priced the same as the current iPad 2, which is the model now for sale in the People's Republic of China (PRC), or mainland China: $499 (US) for the base 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi only, up to $829 for the 64GB Wi-Fi/3G configuration.
Current prices for the iPad 2 run from 2,988 yuan to 5,488 yuan, which at Tuesday's exchange rate is $469 to $861.
As in other markets, Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 for $399 (2,542 yuan at today's exchange rate) in China.
Chinese buyers will be able to purchase iPads through the Apple online store, some authorized resellers and by reservation at one of the country's five Apple retail stores. The latter can be made daily between 9 a.m. and noon local time, starting July 19, for next-day pick up.
The way to iPad sales was cleared last week when Apple paid $60 million to Proview, a Chinese PC and display vendor, for the iPad trademark in mainland China. At the time, financial analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets noted that the trademark settlement would allow Apple to start selling the new tablet this quarter, slightly later than the company had originally intended.
The Greater China sales region -- which for Apple consists of the PRC, Taiwan and Hong Kong -- was responsible for $7.9 billion in sales, or 20% of Apple's total, during the quarter that ended March 31, a tripling from the same quarter the year before.
White also said that Apple would do even better in China if, as many expect, it introduces a smaller, 7.85-in. iPad this fall. "We believe the launch of an iPad Mini -- we expect September -- will prove very popular in China," said White in an interview last week.
"Ultimately, that's the iPad that will sell in mainland China," White added, basing his bet on quarterly trips to Asia, where he sees many more 7-in. non-Apple tablets than the larger iPads. "It's not just the form factor, but also the price point [of an iPad Mini]."
A smaller iPad would sell for between $250 and $300, White said.
Apple will kick off sales of the new iPad in China just days before it reports its second quarter earnings to Wall Street on July 24.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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