Real Winners with Apple’s New iPad: Kids Who Will Inherit Their Parents’ Old iPads

  • Share
  • Read Later
Courtesy Apple

Gadget lovers and Apple worshippers the world over are giddy about the prospect of a new iPad, the specifics of which will be announced today. Apple, of course, will also come out as a big winner if—excuse me, when—it sells tons of iPads, along with apps, e-books, accessories, and more. But the group that should probably be most excited by a new iPad hitting the marketplace is that of kids who will suddenly become the lucky owners of perfectly functional, hand-me-down iPads as their parents upgrade to the new tablets.

Not long ago, the idea of giving a child a highly breakable $500 gadget seemed ludicrous—something only rich folks would do, like handing over the keys to a Porsche to a 16-year-old. But then, when HP’s TouchPad tablet was marked down to $99 in a fire sale last summer, many people suggested that it was perfectly suited to serve as “baby’s first tablet.” Since then, the market has swelled with tablets designed specifically for babies and toddlers, some priced as high as $480.

Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so crazy that a pricey gadget is a child’s favorite plaything. Over the years, it has also become more commonplace for consumers—a broad swath of them, not just geeky early adopters—to upgrade to the latest smartphones and iPads even when their old ones worked just fine. Typically, when someone switched to a new smartphone, the old one was traded in during the transaction. That’s often not the case for iPads, however, and the result is that owners with shiny new iPads have to figure out what to do with their still shiny, but no longer new iPads.

(MORE: Hot Market for iPads, and Not Just the New iPad 3)

Sure, they could sell the old units. There is a huge market for secondhand iPads on sites such as NextWorth, Gazelle, and eBay. But for parents with kids in the house who are constantly asking to play with the iPad, the purchase a new tablet brings with it a good opportunity to demonstrate their grand munificence: A new iPad for mommy or daddy, and a “new to you” iPad for Junior. Everybody’s happy—Apple especially.

A USA Today story describes how many homes are becoming multi-iPad households, and the numbers only rise with the arrival of a new model, giving the excuse for everyone to trade up. One analyst said:

“We see a lot of parents buying second or third tablets because they want to have one for their own and stop kids from tugging theirs.”

(MORE: What Would Steve Do?)

In a survey conducted last year by IHS iSuppli, 55% of tablet users said they plan on buying, or are least considering purchasing, another tablet for a family member. That was months before Apple’s announcement of a new iPad, mind you.

In the Los Angeles Times, another analyst explained how older iPads rarely collect dust in a family’s home:

“It doesn’t end up in a drawer like it does with a phone,” said Carolina Milanesi, a tablet analyst at Gartner. “It either ends up with your kid or your wife or your husband — or it ends up on EBay.”

All signs indicate that demand is strong for the new iPad. According to a recent survey, 42% of iPad owners plan on buying the new model as soon as they can. Another study, from inMobi, has it that 29% of all web users plan on buying the third-generation iPad. (Side note: I can’t wait for this trend for lowerCASE iProduct and iBusiness names to disappear.)

(MORE: Privacy? Here’s How Data Mining Might Actually Help Consumers)

All of this equates to the strong likelihood of a whole lot of new iPads being sold—and a lot of moochers kids lucky enough to be the beneficiaries of the big upgrade-trickledown trade-of-hands that’s about to happen.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.