UK Carriers Cut iPad Price Fueling iPad 2 Speculation

Two of Apple carrier partners in the UK — Orange and T-Mobile — have cut their contract-subsidized pricing for iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G to £99 (US$160.63), a tad more than half of its original pricing of £199 ($322.88). This has led to renewed speculation that Apple is preparing to release an updated iPad model, with the reasoning that the price reductions are an effort to clear out inventory ahead of a product rev.

TechRadar reported Monday that both firms are now offering the reduced price to existing customers — both companies had originally charged £199 to existing customers or £229 to new customers with a 24-month contract.

Apple has been “expected” by pundits, analysts, and armchair quarterbacks to announce a new iPad since the beginning of 2011 leading up to the one-year anniversary of the original device’s ship-date on April 23rd. For its part, Apple has been quite mum on its plans, and the moves from two prominent carriers to reduce subsidized pricing is the first indication from an actual player in Apple’s iPad game that some kind of change is afoot.

In the meanwhile, 9to5Mac reported that inventories of the device are running low at other European retailers, further adding to speculation that Apple is ramping down supply on purpose while it prepares to bring in a new version of the genre-defining device.

Apple’s history is to do just that, ramp down production and availability in the weeks leading up to a product refresh, which is the main fuel for this particular speculation.