Target is offering at least $200 in store credit to customers who trade in any undamaged iPad, no matter how old, an attention-getting promotion that coincides with Apple's (AAPL) release of a new full-sized iPad and an iPad price cut by rival Wal-Mart Stores.
The offer was disclosed on the Minneapolis-based retailer's website and in advertising circulars this week.
At Target stores that sell mobile devices, employees will appraise the value of individual iPads and issue a "$200 minimum promotional credit" on a Target gift card that can be redeemed at any Target store. "To be eligible for trade in, the iPad must power on and the screen must not be scratched," Target said on its website.
The offer extends to the first-generation iPad, which went on sale in 2010, and typically nets a consumer about $65 in a trade-in at other electronics websites and resellers.
A person who applies the $200 to the newest entry-level iPad, the iPad Air Wi-Fi model with 16 gigabytes of storage, could buy the device for $279, down from its listed price of $479.
Both Target and Apple were forced to match Wal-Mart's decision to sell the entry-level iPad at $479 on Friday, the day it was released. Apple had set the list price at $499.
Wal-Mart on Friday also pulled forward by several weeks discounts on other tablets and TVs and tablets that were originally reserved for the day after Thanksgiving and early December, the Associated Press reported.
The move was seen as another sign that retailers are moving aggressively to get the attention of holiday shoppers early, partly because there are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than there were last year.
Meanwhile, Apple has been uncharacteristically silent about sales of a new product. The company typically releases sales figures on the first Monday after a product launch, but tech analysts speculate that it hasn't released data about the iPad Air because it is waiting for the release of a new iPad Mini later this month.
The only early reading on the iPad Air's popularity has come from phone carriers that also distribute it, though none have presented unit sales figures.
AT&T said Monday that its activations of new iPads from Friday to Sunday was more than three times higher than it was when Apple launched new iPads a year ago. But cellular iPads didn't appear all at once last year as they did this year. T-Mobile on Tuesday that it sold more iPads on Friday than it did in the entire July-to-September quarter.