When you walk into an Apple Store — the minimalist design, the Macbook screens tilted just so, the approachable, encyclopedic sales staff — you might be forgiven for being a little bit speechless.
It’s not unlike walking into a Porsche or Mercedes dealership — you don’t expect to find bargain bins full of junk. The presentation is, in fact, as important as the product, and once inside, you’re going to hand over your money to get both.
Even though Apple stores have become tourist attractions in their own right where folks come from countries like Sweden and Brazil to purchase these great products at prices lower than at home, savvy customers might someday shun those stunning glass facades and signature spiral staircases for cheaper prices found elsewhere.
A new report by DealNews shows that Apple products are getting deeper discounts sooner in a product lifecycle than ever before, begging the question: is the Apple Store the best place to buy your gear?
The biggest changes as far as deals go seem to come from the iPhone category, with the iPhone 5S seeing some of the biggest discounts in any category.
When the original iPhone came out in 2007, it ran $499 and there were no discounts to be had, the researchers noted. The iPhone 3GS had no appreciable deals, either, until the end of its product span when Walmart offered it for $97. A similar progression happened with the iPhone 4 and 4S–not too many price cuts.
The iPhone 5, though, saw quite a few deals when retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Fry’s competing with wireless carriers like Sprint to offer some great deals — an eye-crossing total of 27 different offers according to the report.
That sale cycle is definitely speeding up: for the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, the prices were slashed just six days after their debut. The iPhone 5c can be found for a grand total of zero dollars with a contract at Sprint and Best Buy, while you can put an iPhone 5s in your pocket for half its original price.
Compare this to the eleven months deal seekers waited to see even a $50 price drop for the original iPad, while the iPad 2 only saw a $10 price cut four months after its release. The third generation iPad had price cuts within a month of its retail debut, while the iPad 4 saw a $50 discount in the same time span.
The new iPad Air is easy to find these days, says the report, for under $450, and it saw its first drop to $430 just 10 days after it was available in stores. That could also mean big discounts leading up to September, when Apple traditionally marks back-to-school time by launching a new iPad model.
Sadly, the iPad Mini and iPad Mini with Retina aren’t seeing the same quick rush to discount, though there are a few to be found at around $350.
Apple’s hot Macbook Air is also seeing steeper discounts, if fewer overall sales. The latest model of Air with the Haswell chip in it can be found at some retailers for a 20 percent discount, which is pretty good–you should be able to find an 11-inch model for $800 if you spend some time searching.
Don’t expect to a see a discount Apple outlet story anytime soon, though. Apple uses its retail outlets for more than enticing you with product. Its generous repair policies and the Genius Bar, which sees around 50,000 people per day, will continue to bring people in to a clean, well-lit place to buy Apple gear. If the trends here are anything to go by, however, the answer is still a qualified yes.