Used iPads Flood the Resale Market

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So does that mean you’ll be able to scoop up a used, first-generation iPad on the cheap?

Based on the prices demanded by sellers, the answer is no. Not yet anyway.

A Mashable post (republished by USA Today) describes an iPad trade-in market that’s been amazingly robust since Apple‘s iPad 2 announcement on Wednesday., which pays cash for used gadgets, bought 2,500 iPads from consumers on Wednesday, and another 2,000 or so the day after. Mashable’s Christina Warren puts that into context, comparing the iPad trade-in market to that of last summer’s iPhone announcement:

When the iPhone 4 was announced in June, Gazelle saw around 1,200 trade-ins the first day. That included all iPhone models, from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3GS.

First day iPad trade-ins were nearly double that.

Consumers trading in iPads are getting pretty darn good money, all things considered. I just gave Gazelle a test run, and it was offering $300 (not including shipping) for an iPad 16GB WiFi in excellent condition, with all the accessories.

That’s nothing to sniff at, considering that after the iPad 2 announcement Apple said it would drop prices on the original model, selling a refurbed version of the iPad 16Gb WiFi for $349, for example, and when you buy from Apple you get a new warranty.

Meanwhile, over at eBay, per Mashable:

Since the Instant Sale program launched in October, eBay rep Annie Lescroart says, 22,000 iPads have been offered on the site. Some 7,100 were posted after the iPad 2 announcement.

So in less than 24 hours, eBay’s Instant Sale program generated 1/3 of its total iPad offers.

The “buy it now” prices at eBay for iPads are generally the same prices now being offered by Apple. And, oddly enough, there are some sellers still listing pre-Wednesday prices. In other words, in theory, if you really wanted to, you could pay more to purchase an iPad from some random eBay vendor than it would cost to buy directly from Apple. Bids for iPads in eBay’s classic online auctions seem to wind up at or very close to what you’d have to pay at retail.

All of this indicates that demand for the iPad—1 or 2—is really freaking strong.

So, if you’ve been waiting to score a used iPad for a super cheap price, it looks like you’re going to have to keep waiting. The possibility of a tablet price war seems like it’ll take a while to crystallize, and the biggest price markdowns are likely to come from Apple’s competitors, not Apple itself.

On the other hand, if you bought an iPad and you want to unload it, now is a good time to be a seller. This goes whether you want to sell because you just have to have an iPad 2, or because you just don’t see a good reason to keep the original. Yes, people exist who are unimpressed with the iPad. Unimpressed isn’t the right word. Everyone is impressed by what this gadget can do. It’s just that many, many people don’t think highly of the iPad for its utility and functionality (or lack thereof).

While demand for used and new iPads remains high, there seems to be somewhat of a backlash among angry iPad owners ranting that they’ve come to realize what they bought is little more than a toy—a fun, but fairly useless time suck.

The latest to weigh in with this opinion is WSJ’s Brett Arends, who explains why he’s not into owning an iPad:

I just fear that if I had an iPad with me I would waste an incredible amount of my time surfing the Web, watching the latest mediocre TV programs or playing those highly addictive games.

After all, that’s what everyone else seems to do.