iSuppli, the firm that loves to do teardowns of new gadgets to find out just how much they cost to put together, last week revealed its estimates for the Apple iPad.
The firm found that the lowest-end iPad will cost Apple $219.35 in total materials and $10 in manufacturing costs, equalling a $229.35 total for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model. While Apple is expected to be getting more than double that back from the $499 price tag, the most profitable model is the mid-priced 32 GB iPad with 3G wireless capability, which will contain $275.95 worth of components and other materials and cost $11.20 to manufacture, iSuppli estimates. This will retail for $729 in stores.
Keep in mind that these are present-day estimates without exposure to actual hardware, but it certainly shows that there's a comfortable buffer (even after R&D and other overhead costs) for Apple to drop price.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal noted that Apple expressed intentions that it plans to remain "nimble" on iPad pricing (read: price drops if the competition heats up or there is lesser-than-expected demand).