Helping you decide: buy an iPad today or an iPad 2 on March 25?

One of the more surprising parts of the iPad announcement this morning wasn’t actually announced, and that was a new lower price for Australians. So should you buy the less-expensive old iPad, or wait a couple of weeks for the new one?

Dollars and sense

Australians have been fairly critical of major electronics retailers of late, particularly on the problem of our shifting dollar. The closer we come to hitting parity – to rising above the value of the US dollar – the more we want to save.

And why shouldn’t we? We’re often forking out more, because for years, that’s exactly what we’ve done.

This morning came a sign that Apple was paying attention: the iPad range had dropped in price. No longer starting at $629, Australians could now grab an iPad for $449, with the most expensive model only hitting $839 instead of the $1049 it was yesterday.

Is Apple actually shifting its prices to match what our dollar is doing, or is this just a temporary price adjustment?

If you’ve been watching our rising dollar (or the weakening US dollar), you’re also probably aware of the Canadian dollar’s rise to parity, now valued ever so slightly higher than ours. With that in mind, the iPad should be cheaper in Canada too.

And it is: $419 for the base model, compared with $499 in America.

From the looks of both the Australian and Canadian storefronts, it looks as though Apple has paid attention to parity, putting the iPad at prices lower than what it will retail for in America.

Price check, please

Apple has lowered prices throughout the iPad range in Australia and Canada, something we didn’t expect. That said, we can’t imagine that Apple would suddenly lower prices, only to raise them three weeks later as if to say “hey, new model so… increased price.”

That’s not Apple’s style.

With every new release of hardware, a model is replaced. For instance, when the new iPods come out, the older models no longer exist. The same goes with MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Occasionally the replaced models turn up in the refurbished or clearance section of Apple’s Store website, saving the most eagle-eyed of customers a few dollars here and there.

Even the iPhone has the replacement cycle applied to it, with the exception that the previous iPhone generation gets pushed to the budget section.

So with a new iPad now here, the old one – last year’s one – will likely go away, shifting itself to Apple’s refurb and clearance section, maybe even saving you twenty bucks when you find them.

What’s more, when Apple does replace a model, the prices rarely change. So even though Apple has yet to release “official pricing” for the iPad 2, you have to wonder if what we’re seeing is the new revised pricing for the iPad, at least until our dollar takes a dramatic dip.

Apple’s new iPad pricing for Australia.

So do I buy today or do I buy on March 25th?

It probably wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that a price reduction wasn’t expected by many in the industry. In fact, price was the one thing that stayed out of the rumours. We had new screens, cameras, faster chips, different designs, 3D technology, but no mention of a lower price.

So if you wanted an iPad 2, chances are that you were prepared to spend the $629 minimum it cost yesterday.

With the new prices, if you need one now, you’ll be saving some money. But if the new features and thinner design are a big deal to you, then chances are that even if Apple does raise prices, it won’t be higher than what you were prepared to pay in the first place.

If you’re worried about the price increasing and don’t need a faster chip, a new design, and FaceTime on the iPad, buying it before March 25 will save you some money. Otherwise, you can grab the new model at the end of the month and hope Apple keeps the price at its new low point.