Apple MacBook Air, iPad 2, iMac Get Black Friday Discounts

Now's the time to pick up your iPad 2--or pretty much any Apple product. Most are on a Black Friday sale today.

Computer maker Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched a special Black Friday sale for many of its popular products, including the iPad 2 tablet, ultra-thin MacBook Air notebook and iPod media players. The iPad 2 dropped $41 in price to $458 from $499 for the 16GB version, and the MacBook Air fell to $898 from $999, for a savings of $101, the same savings as the MacBook Pro and iMac desktop, which are currently priced at $1,098.

A long list of Apple accessories, including the Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse, Time Capsule and wireless keyboard, saw price reductions as well, while shoulder bags, slipcovers and other carrying cases-some sporting designer labels from Kate Spade or Michael Kors-are also available on sale. The company noted promotional pricing cannot be combined with any other offers, and the Black Friday shopping event prices are solely available on Nov. 25.

Apple's not the only electronics retailer looking to grab a slice of the consumer spending cake-Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Verizon Wireless have sharply discounted their smartphones and tablet computers in time for the holiday shopping spree. Amazon Wireless, Amazon's mobile subsidiary, is selling Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone and Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry phones from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for one penny to customers who accept a new two-year deal from the corresponding carriers.

Verizon is also sharply discounting the first two Android tablets it sold. The carrier is selling Motorola's Xoom "Honeycomb" tablet online Nov. 24, 25 and 28 for $199.99 with a two-year mobile broadband plan beginning at $30 monthly access for 2GB of data. Verizon will also sell the Xoom nationwide for $199.99 on contract on Friday, Nov. 25, only. In addition, the carrier is marking down the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab to $149.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and new two-year customer agreement between Nov. 24 and Nov. 28.

A sharp slowdown in spending due to continuing economic chaos will cause revenue growth in the global consumer electronics (CE) market to fall short of growth expectations by more than 75 percent this year, according to an IHS iSuppli Consumer Platforms Market Tracker report from information and analysis provider IHS. CE revenue in 2011 will amount to $357.3 billion, up a scant 1.5 percent from $351.9 billion in 2010, and equivalent to a 77 percent reduction compared with the previous IHS forecast of 6.4 percent growth for the year.

"Black Friday is prime time for consumer electronics manufacturers, when they can count on huge sales to achieve profitability for the entire year," said Jordan Selburn, principal analyst for consumer platforms at IHS. "However, as the year draws to a close, it's becoming apparent that sales in 2011 will fall well short of expectations, as economic issues take their toll. While market conditions are improving in the fourth quarter because of Black Friday and the rest of the holiday selling season, this three-month respite won't be sufficient to salvage the entire year."

A big factor in this year's forecast reduction is the slowing of the LCD TV space, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of CE revenues. LCD TV revenue in 2011 is now anticipated to reach $104 billion instead of $110 billion, although the segment retains solid momentum going forward. A different part of the CE market-the portable media and MP3 player segment-is in even more dire straits, IHS believes.

"While the LCD TV space is enduring a reduction in growth, the MP3 market is experiencing an accelerating fall in prospects, as the once ultra-hot systems are now being cast aside in favor of high-profile devices like smartphones and tablets," the company's report noted. "Even the iPod from Apple Inc., the best seller in its class, is not immune: iPod shipments in the third quarter were down to 6.6 million units, compared to 9.1 million units the same time last year."