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Riddle Us This: Why is TJ Maxx Selling iPads for $399?

iPad sign at TJ MaxxIn what alternate universe would you have to live to hear this: “Honey, next time you’re down at TJ Maxx getting a great deal on clothes, pick me up one of those iPads I keep hearing about.” As it turns out, it’s not only a reality, but it could be happening in this very universe.

Engadget is reporting that, for some inexplicable reason, budget retailer TJ Maxx is now offering the base model 16GB, Wi-Fi only iPad for — wait for it — 9.99. You didn’t read that wrong: TJ Maxx is now the cheapest place to buy a 16GB iPad, a full cheaper than even Apple’s own refurbs.

The rogue iPads were first spotted by an Engadget reader at a TJ Maxx in Vernon, NY and the intrepid reporter followed up by confirming the devices were also on sale in stores in Ohio, New Jersey and elsewhere. When the news first broke, many believed these were refurbished units, but apparently that’s not the case. Some of the stores contacted were holding back their inventory for Black Friday, which is only a week away now.

According to MacRumors, iPads have also popped up at Marshalls, which is a sister chain to the TJ Maxx brand. Both retailers are known for catering to the “thrifty” crowd — they buy up excess inventory from both manufacturers as well as other stores and move it out the door as cheaply as possible. While they do offer plenty of brand names, Apple historically hasn’t been one of them.

Either this is one of the greatest strategic marketing moves in retail history, or a whole bunch of iPads fell off the back of a truck somewhere — Apple is mum on the subject for now, so feel free to speculate away while you go grab yourself a deal.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

(Image courtesy of Engadget)


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Glassgate: Apple Stops Selling Slide-On iPhone 4 Cases

iPhone 4 in Mophie case
(Image courtesy of Cult of Mac)

Following rumblings in recent weeks that Apple is facing yet another iPhone 4-related challenge with “Glassgate,” it appears the company has pulled all slide-on cases for the handset from their retail stores over concerns about dirt causing scratches and cracks.

Cult of Mac has filed an exclusive report on what’s being called “Glassgate” — potentially the next headache for Apple over their wildly successful iPhone 4 after the company finally put their previous “Antennagate” troubles behind them. The new problem involves slide-on cases for the handset, which can cause trapped dirt between the case and the device to create scratches or even cracks in the glass.

The report finds that at least one manufacturer certified for Apple’s “Made for iPhone” program has already had “hundreds of thousands” of battery pack cases pulled by Apple Retail, just as the holiday season kicks into gear — a huge problem considering that Apple’s 317 retail stores is considered the biggest outlet for many such accessory makers.

“Glassgate is a real problem,” said the unnamed source. “Apple is not approving slide-on cases right now for its stores. If they didn’t have a glass back, they wouldn’t have a problem.”

The term “Glassgate” was first coined by Ryan Block with Gdgt, who noted that the glass back on the iPhone 4 is not made from the same super-strength Gorilla Glass used on the front of the device to fend off scratches and other mishaps. Snap-on cases don’t appear to suffer from the same problem as the type that slide onto the device.

“They’re evaluating every case, one at a time,” said another source whose company is considered a popular third-party case maker for Apple’s products. “They’re being very vigorous. We’re still waiting for a final verdict.”

Among the slide-on case products currently banned from Apple’s retail stores is Mophie’s Juice Pack Air, which apparently had “monster” orders from Cupertino in excess of 100,000 units. The cases continue to be sold direct from Mophie’s website as well as in AT&T stores nationwide.

Tim Hickman, the CEO of accessory maker Hard Candy, claims that “Glassgate” is problem of perception, rather than reality — although it should be noted that Hard Candy cases are not sold in Apple Stores, so their business remains unaffected by Cupertino’s current ban.

“I’ve shipped 22,000 units and not heard a single complaint,” the iPod and iPhone accessory veteran said. “If there was a problem, we would have heard about it by now. I’m very suspect that there’s a real issue here.”

So how about it, dear readers? Any issues with your slide-on iPhone 4 cases? Sound off in the comments either way.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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iPad Declared Fastest Selling Gizmo of All Time

Oh you just know this one’s going to turn up in Steve Jobs‘ next Keynote. According to a financial analyst working for Bernstein Research, the iPad, having sold over 8.5 million units and counting, is the fastest selling device of all time. Now, get ready for the shocker: The numbers in the Bernstein study were crunched before the iPad was made available to shoppers at Walmart or Target. Just imagine the sheer number of units Apple will be putting in the hands of consumers over the upcoming holiday season thanks to the deeper market penetration made possible by selling their tablets at big box stores within driving distance of even the most remote North American communities.

Crazy.

More interesting than this, a recent study by NDP indicated that 13% of all iPad users polled said that they would not have purchased a personal computer if they had been given the option to buy an iPad first. With sales numbers as high as we’re seeing here, coupled with the devotion that users have to the Cupertino-designed tablet and the sheer number of applications available for consumer use, it is very hard to envision how any similar device released in the months to come will be able to put much of a dent in the iPad’s soaring popularity.

 

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.

 


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iPhone 4 Selling Out in China

iPhone 4 demand in China
(Image courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Apple releases a new iPhone model and the demand almost immediately overwhelms the actual supply. This time, however, the location isn’t the U.S. but rather China, where the device went on sale over the weekend and crowds swarmed in to get one.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on what looks to be a boffo iPhone 4 launch in China, particularly when compared to last year’s initial launch of the iPhone 3GS sans Wi-Fi. Carrier China Unicom appears to have quickly sold out of their initial shipment of iPhone 4 units, but says that more are on the way soon.

Saturday marked the official launch of the new handset, and China Unicom had received more than 200,000 iPhone 4 preorders prior to launch, with another 40,000 customers coming out on launch day to get the device and a bundled service plan. It took China Unicom six weeks to sell only 100,000 handsets after the previous model launched last October.

The iPhone is exclusive to China Unicom, who could use the leg up to fend off competitors China Mobile Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. as the trio rush to beef up their 3G subscriber base — and the more expensive devices and data plans required to use the service.

Apple claims that more iPhone 4 units are on the way to Chinese customers, especially as the company narrows the gap between release dates internationally. It took Apple 28 months to introduce an iPhone in China after the original debuted in the U.S. in 2007, but the iPhone 4 arrives only three months after its introduction here — and only five months for the newer iPad, which went on sale in China earlier this month.

The iPhone 4 launch also capitalized on the opening of two new Apple Stores in the country, and plans to ramp up to 25 such stores by the end of 2011.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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