Apple Inc. devices are proving popular this Black Friday weekend, but iPads and Watches are actually cheaper at Apple’s big-box retail partners than they are when bought directly from the manufacturer, which is hosting its own one-day online shopping event.
Earlier this week, Apple AAPL, +0.29% announced that it would be hosting a one-time shopping event the Friday after Thanksgiving after skipping the event in 2015. Details on the company’s ad for the event were scarce, but Apple teased it with a photo of the Apple Watch, spurring rumors that it might discount hardware, a break from the past practice of offering deals on gift cards. The company also teased free two-day shipping, mirroring Amazon Prime AMZN, +0.01% and certain partner distributors.
This year, however, proved to be more of the same, with Apple offering Apple gift cards on select products bought at full price. In other words, a shopper spends just as much money now as they would have yesterday on certain devices to get a store discount for a later purchase. But even after subtracting the Apple gift card from the regular retail price, certain devices are actually cheaper at Best Buy Co. BBY, -0.38% and Target Corp. TGT, +0.14% today than they are shopping directly at Apple.com.
When taking advantage of Apple’s deals, a full-price iPhone SE, iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus yields a $ 50 gift card; a full-price iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4 comes with a $ 100 gift card; a full-priced Apple Watch Series 1 includes a $ 25 gift card; and a full-priced MacBook, MacBook Pro 13-inch, MacBook Pro 15-inch; MacBook Air and iMac yields a $ 150 gift card.
Breaking this down further, the iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi 32-gigabyte costs $ 274.99 at Best Buy and $ 274 at Target, compared with $ 399 at Apple, or $ 349 when including the $ 50 gift card.
The Apple Watch Series 1 rose gold model with a sport band is $ 219 at Best Buy and $ 198 at Target, compared with $ 269 at Apple, or $ 244 when including the $ 25 gift card.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with 8GB of memory is $ 1,099.99 at Best Buy and $ 1,149 at New York-based consumer tech retailer B&H, compared with $ 1,299 at Apple, or $ 1,149 when including the gift card. The MacBook isn’t sold at Target.
The only time going straight to Apple is better is if you’re buying an older-model iPhone. The iPhone 6s Plus 32GB rose gold, for example, is $ 649 at Apple.com, or $ 599 including the gift card. That’s compared with a retail price of $ 699.99 at Best Buy.
For the iPhone 7, however, the deal is better at Best Buy, with Apple selling its newest iPhone at full price and Best Buy offering discounts and e-gift cards on certain models. The iPhone 7 black 128GB, for example, is $ 36.58 a month for 24 months with the iPhone upgrade program, or $ 749 retail when purchased at Apple.com, whereas Best Buy is offering it for $ 31.25 a month for 24 months along with a $ 100 Best Buy e-gift card.
Apple has been trying to boost device sales after suffering recent declines in hardware, which are its largest source of revenue. The company reported its first-ever annual decline in iPhone sales last month. This has prompted the company in recent months to shift the conversation on its earnings conference calls to services, which now make more money than the Mac family, while analysts have started to question the company’s ability to innovate on pace with its biggest rivals in certain areas such as augmented reality and television. The company’s much-hyped BlueTooth AirPods, meanwhile, still aren’t available.
Shares of Apple rose 0.3% to $ 111.52 in late-morning trade Friday, while those of Best Buy fell 0.3% to $ 46.83 and Target’s rose 0.4% to $ 78.79 – all on unusually light volume given the holiday.
Apple’s shares have risen 3.7% in the past three months, but remain down 5.5% in the past year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.26% , meanwhile, is up 3.7% in the past three months and up 7.4% in the past year. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.26% has gained 8% on the year.
Black Friday Shopping Secrets(3:10)
Shoppers who missed out on $ 97 Beats headphones, a $ 99 Nikon camera and other Black Friday deals last year needn’t worry. Chances are those same items will be on sale again this year—for the same price. WSJ's Suzanne Kapner explains on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. Photo: Zuma Press