October 22, 2012, 9:08 PM — Even before Apple sent invitations for the Tuesday launch event where it will likely unveil a smaller iPad, consumers were unloading their old tablets in increasing numbers so they can trade up to Apple's latest, according to gadget buy-back firm Gazelle.
Today, rivals of the Boston-based company said that trade-in volume continued to climb, with owners of 7-in. tablets from the likes of Google and Amazon joining the bandwagon.
A week and a half ago, Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer at Gazelle, noted that tablet trade-in volume was up 80% in the previous 30 days over the same stretch before that.
"Volumes started going up in mid-September, when they doubled in one day," said Scarsella. "Since then, they've stayed pretty stable."
Although rumors of a smaller iPad -- usually pegged as a tablet with a 7.85-in. display, considerably smaller in total area than the 9.7-in. iPad -- have circulated for years, talk in mid-September centered around the tablet hitting production at a major Apple supplier.
Follow-up speculation a few weeks later tapped Oct. 17 as a launch date, with a Nov. 2 on-sale debut. Those rumors did not pan out; last week, Apple invited reporters and analysts to an event tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 23, where virtually everyone expects it to reveal the small "iPad Mini" -- the name most have used as its until-launch label.
"Most of the tablets being traded in are original first-generation iPads," said Scarsella, adding that 60% of the requests for quotes were from users seeking a price on the 2010 model.
"It looks like upgraders want to turn in their first-generation iPads," Scarsella. "I assume that they're looking for a more updated model, since the presumed specs [for the iPad Mini] are similar to an iPad 2."
As of 4 p.m. ET today, Gazelle was quoting $125 for a 16GB first-generation, Wi-Fi iPad in "good" condition, $130 for a 32GB model and $140 for a 64GB device.
Although iPad Mini prices have not yet been revealed -- Apple has not even confirmed that Tuesday's event will introduce a smaller iPad -- bets by experts and pundits have ranged from $249 to $329 for the entry-level configuration.
Other trade-in vendors have seen activity jump as well.
NextWorth's current quote for a first-generation, 16GB iPad is $130, about half the lowest predicted price of an 'iPad Mini.'