Where to Find Black Friday’s Best Deals on the iPad Air

Apple isn’t giving real discounts today, but fear not. Other stores will knock as much as $50 off the price of the iPad Air and the iPad Mini.

Ready, set, shop. I don’t like the idea of stores staying open on Thanksgiving -- retail workers deserve to have family time. But that was yesterday. Today is Black Friday and why not snag a discount on some of Apple’s best technology?

The iPad Air is an ultralight version of the the iPad Retina, and it’s not cheap:  The least expensive model – the 16GB, Wi-Fi only version, will set you back $499 at the Apple Store. But you can save $50 on that pup at Staples, $49 at Best Buy, and $20 at Target, which will throw in a $100 gift card. Models with more storage rate the same discount as well.

However, Target wants you to shop brick and mortar, so you’ll have to truck over there to buy most models.

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If you don’t mind buying the older iPad 2, Best Buy and Staples will knock $100 off the price, which equals $299 for the base model.  And if you’re in the market for the iPad Mini, Staples is offering good discounts on all models.

You’ll notice I haven’t told you how much of a discount you can snag at the Apple Store. That’s because for the first time in memory (mine, anyway), Apple isn’t giving any.  Instead you can get a gift card worth $75 with a purchase of any model of the iPad Air, and a $150 gift card if you buy the Macbook Air or Pro. There aren’t all that many Apple products you can buy for $75, but if you’re in the market for more than one iPad, or want to buy something else, the gift is essentially a discount on the second product.

Still, that’s not the same as knocking money off the real price, and I suspect that a lot of dedicated Apple shoppers are not happy. My guess is that Apple, which is under severe pressure from Wall Street to keep margins, and thus profits, as high as possible, is taking it out on the customer by eschewing real discounts.  And you can only get those cards today, Black Friday, according to Apple’s Web site.

I’ve seen some reports that said Apple’s Web site has been down intermittently today, likely a sign of very heavy traffic.In any case, it seems to be working just fine at this point.

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