Apple's Black Friday sale always generates lots of buzz, speculation, and media interest, which is strange because it's always the same sale. Year after year, the manufacturer doles out a consistent 5% to 10% discount off iPads, iPods, MacBooks, and iMacs with free shipping sitewide with no minimum required. We doubt this year will be any different.
However, we're also predicting that third-party merchants will once again undercut Apple's Black Friday sale. For example, in 2011, Amazon and Best Buy beat Apples' deals on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, as both offered promotions that were a full $149 under what Apple was charging. Meanwhile, MacMall cut up to 20% off a selection of Apple computers, which is nearly twice as deep a cut as the Apple Store. Even the iPad 2 was surprisingly discounted from a variety of resellers last year. Each of these deals put Apple's own sale to shame, so it's worth keeping an eye on these merchants if you're looking for the best Apple deals on Black Friday. Expect resellers to take up to 20% off or more.
The Almighty iPad Will Start at $299
Of course, one of the hottest items people will be looking to buy this year is the iPad. The lowest price we saw last year around Black Friday for the 16GB WiFi version of the iPad 2 was $449. Micro Center then offered it for $450 (in addition to taking $50 off all models) with in-store pickup, while Best Buy twice offered it for $455. It stands to reason then that we could see the 3rd-generation "new" iPad drop to $450 this year as well. But take heed: this deal won't last long. The three aforementioned shipped deals lasted on our site for an average of just two hours and 25 minutes each.
Let's not forget however that the iPad 2 is still around, and although it's already been discounted to a lower $399 starting price, we predict that it too will be available as a deal this Black Friday. We've actually already seen notable discounts on the iPad 2 since it was relegated to secondary status; this summer, Fry's Electronics offered the 16GB WiFi version for $299 (with in-store pickup only), a full 25% off or $100 below what Apple charges. If the iPad 2 follows in the footsteps of previous iPad Black Friday deals, then it will match (or come very close to) its previous all-time low price of $299; it will probably be for in-store pickup only at a location like Fry's or Micro Center, too, where not everyone can easily get to it. The good news though is that, if you live near one of these stores, your Black Friday just got a little brighter.
Deals on the Best-Selling Smartphone
Until last year, we would have said "no way" to a current-gen iPhone deal on Black Friday. (In fact, it's what we did say in our predictions last year.) So we were shocked to see Fry's Electronics discount the entire line of Apple iPhone 4S phones — which had been released just six weeks earlier — to $25 below what Apple was charging directly. There's a slim chance that Fry's (or some other merchant that wants to offer an attention-grabbing deal) could do the same for the iPhone 5 this year. If that happens, you would do well to jump on that deal, because we only saw the 4S discounted once last year; it's not worth waiting around in the hopes for a better price.
How did we do with last year's Apple predictions? Aside from the iPhone gaffe, we nailed it. We predicted the discounts with pinpoint accuracy. (Though, it's not hard to guess something that has happened every year for the past four years, but we'll take the credit anyway!)
Summary: Black Friday Predictions for Apple
- Free shipping with no minimum at Apple Store online
- 5% to 10% off iPods, computers, and iPads at the Apple Store
- Better discounts from resellers, taking up to 25% off Apple products
- Apple new iPad 16GB WiFi Tablet for $449
- Apple iPad 2 16GB WiFi Tablet for $299
- At least one deal on the iPhone 5, likely with in-store pickup