Refreshed internals, lower price point possible.
Unverified iPad 3 Rumors: Price List Suggests Price Hike Over iPad 2, Shipments to U.S. En Route?
One post seems to depict a price comparison between the iPad 2 and iPad 3 possibly revealing a price increase for the iPad 3. The headings are labled left to right: "Apple iPad Model", "iPad 2 US Price", "iPad 3 US Price", "iPad 3 RMB equivalent price". The final column is calculated on the exchange rate.
The iPad 2 prices are in U.S. dollars at the present pricing, which starts at $499 for the 16GB+WiFi model. The iPad 3, meanwhile, is listed at a starting price of $579 for the $16GB+WiFi model and goes as high as $899 for the 64GB+WiFi+3G model. According to the chart, the iPad 3 costs $80 more for the equivalent Wi-Fi models, and $70 more for the equivalent 3G models.
A second post from Sina Weibo [via Apple.pro] shares an apparently now-removed image from WeiPhone depicting what is claimed to be details on a series of high-security cargo flights from Chengdu, China, where Foxconn has iPad assembly plants, to Shanghai. The six flights, which are taking place between yesterday and March 9, are said to be part of itineraries moving iPad 3 units to the United States, with three flights ultimately headed to Chicago's O'Hare airport, two headed to Los Angeles, and one headed to New York's Kennedy airport. A separate flight on March 5 appears to be planned to position units through Tokyo's Narita airport.
9to5Mac also posts a photo of what one Sina Weibo user claims is iPad 3 units being loaded onto a cargo plane for transport.
With all of the reports coming from WeiPhone forums and Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter, it's hard to tell if they have any credibility. But it seems reasonable to believe that Apple might be preparing to stage supplies of the iPad 3 at various locations in order to be ready for a quick launch following an introduction as rumored for March 7.
On the pricing front, Apple is believed to be upgrading the iPad 3 to a 2048x1536 "Retina" display, which could account for some price increase to the iPad 3. It's also not clear if the usage of "3G" in the chart means that the iPad 3 will be 3G-only, or if it was just used for the price comparison. The iPad 3 has also been rumored to be getting LTE (4G) data on both Verizon and AT&T in the U.S.