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Brits to get 3G iPad early - and at a reduced price?

UK website hints at network subsidies

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Will Brits be able to get their mitts on the iPad sooner than they thought? Apple UK's website seems to suggest they will. The gadget may also be cheaper than expected too.

The site, updated late last week to incorporated pricing - stated, bizarrely, in US dollars - says: "Wi-Fi models shipping in late March. 3G models shipping in April."

At the pumped-up iPod Touch's launch last week, CEO Steve Jobs indicated that outside the US, the 3G iPad wouldn't debut until June or July.

Apple is presumably talking to local network owners and, indeed, the Apple UK says: "International carrier availability to be announced."

Curiously, it also says (our italics): "3G data plan may be sold separately."

That implies to us that a low-cost 3G package like the one Apple announced it's providing through AT&T in the US isn't a given over here.

However, the reference to "carrier availability" certainly suggests Apple anticipates the iPad will be sold by the likes of Vodafone, O2 and Orange, quite possibly at a much lower up-front price in return for a commitment to a 3G data contract.

This clearly won't apply to the Wi-Fi model, but it does raise the prospect of 3G iPads appearing on UK High Streets at prices closer to £100 than £400, and perhaps even for nothing when purchased with two-year data tariffs.

Even with the iPad's flaws, at that kind of price rather more Brits will be tempted to take one home. ®

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