iPad 2 – What’s the Plan?

 Verizon, AT&T and Apple are all set to start selling iPad 2 devices tomorrow, beginning at 5pm EST. 

If you were considering getting a Verizon ready iPad, here are the plans that will be offered:

  • 1GB per month – $20
  • 3GB per month – $35
  • 5GB per month – $50
  • 10GB per month – $80

If anyone has a data plan on their smartphone and utilizes the hotspot feature for an extra $20 a month, you might start reading between the lines on these plans.  For $20 a month, I can use my smartphone as a mobile hotspot and have my iPad hooked up to the Internet via the phone.  While it drains the battery a bit, it is a lot cheaper at $20/2GB, then the plans above.  It makes me wonder what Verizon has in store for the mobile hotspot plans.  We already know the unlimited plans on the phones are going away…I have a feeling the $20/2GB hotspot/tether plans will change in the near future too, to look more like the plans above. 

If you are an AT&T user, the plans offered, will look these below:

  • $14.99/250 MB per month
  • $25/2GB per month

Overage on the plans varies based on the carrier and the specific plan.  See carrier for details.

iPhone to Verizon – A Blue’s Clue!

If you haven’t heard yet, there are rumors that Apple has ordered “hoards”, yes that is right – “Hoards!!” of CDMA chipsets from Qualcomm. If you read my early posts, you would know that Qualcomm is the company that developed the CDMA network and is what the Verizon network utilizes to provide its mobile services (Sprint does as well, but would they order “Hoards” of chipsets? I think not)

Anyway, in addition to this news, what is not as well known yet (although it’s becoming more wide spread, like the Easter Bunny getting laid off this past April – you didn’t know?) is a statement referenced in a recent AT&T SEC filing. It read:

In addition, offering a number of attractive handsets on an exclusive basis distinguishes us from our competitors. As these exclusivity arrangements end, we expect to continue to offer such handsets (based on historical industry practice), and we believe our service plan offerings will help to retain our customers by providing incentives not to move to a new carrier.

Wait, what did you say AT&T??? As these exclusivity arrangements end… So how many arrangements do you think they have right now? The only one I know of is the one for the iPhone. Yes, we pretty much had an idea it ended this year, but there were rumors it would be extended or was not ending. Now it seems to just about be confirmed that it will end, opening the playing field to other providers.

So when is the iPhone coming to Verizon? As I have been preaching, I would target a date around early January of next year, with an announcement not coming until next year, as to not disrupt the Christmas shopping season. Many might argue pre-holiday season would be ideal, but in this case I think it would only be a bad publicity stunt. Verizon would cause mass demand on their network and on the iPhone itself, plus cannibalize Android sales. The iPad could also suffer, with people like myself waiting to see if it would be coming on the Verizon network and holding off on a current model that is on AT&T (possibly upsetting Apple – I’m sure Verizon doesn’t care much about what AT&T thinks on this topic). Again, just my thoughts, and nothing factual.

The New Blackberry Torch goes to AT&T – Conspiracy in the Making?

Well, the long awaited announcement has come and the Blackberry 6 operating system is right around the corner, which will debut on the new Blackberry Torch. The Torch 9800, will be a touchscreen phone with a sliding keyboard, something not available on any other Blackberry to date. The phone will be available on AT&T’s network.

What I had found interesting, which is now confirmed with today’s news, is the new phone will be on AT&T’s network and not Verizon (at least not at launch). While I am sure some people are shaking their heads, I think I have a theory.

There are 3 major players in the smartphone market today. Blackberry, Android, and Apple’s iPhone. Sorry Palm and Microsoft, but in my opinion, at this time you are not major players.

Blackberry is your best corporate solution at the time of this write up. I say at the time of this write up because technology in the mobile space is changing so quickly that by the time I hit ‘Post’ on this blog, it could all change! Blackberry provides the most secure and best messaging system. It allows corporations to setup Blackberry Enterprise Servers (BES) to connect all the devices, securely to the internal network, and control the level of security. Blackberry is proven, but in many cases, less “sexy” than the other players.

Apple’s iPhone has been around the block a few times now and it is definitely more innovative and better from an application perspective than the Blackberry. Apple has many cool features and definitely appeals to all different end users. Apple has two major issues right now holding it back. Verizon does not have the iPhone. It’s unfortunate because Apple approached Verizon first and was turned down. AT&T capitalized with securing an exclusive deal, but now the AT&T market is saturated and it is time to move on. The iPhone also does not do as well as the Blackberry (yet?) on corporate networks. This takes serious business users out of the picture.

The Android is Google’s mobile operating system, aimed at competing with the other major players in the mobile market. According to multiple reports (one specifically on Bgr.com), while the smartphone market has grown 62% in Q2 of 2010, Android has posted 886% growth. This can likely be contributed to Verizon’s influx of Android based handsets. We have seen the introduction of three very impressive devices – Droid, The Incredible and Droid X, with Droid 2 right around the corner. Since Android is open source and very developer friendly, the Android Marketplace has been very successful in the early stages. Google is also well known for its innovative ideas and as a result, the Android operating system has delivered some really cool features. Like the iPhone though, the Android system does not bode as well on corporate networks. This is not to say Android is not taking strides towards being more corporate network friendly, it’s just Blackberry is still the better choice in the corporate space (in my opinion).

So with AT&T taking on the new and improved Blackberry phone, what can we read into this move? Well, for those who know me well, I like conspiracy theories; it passes the time. What I see here, is a shift in AT&Ts strategy to proactively protect itself in the marketplace. Ask yourself, what is the bread and butter of AT&T today? What really allows AT&T to compete with Verizon? It’s not their customer service or network. It’s not the fact that they are GSM over CDMA – most people who own a smartphone probably couldn’t even tell you the difference. The one thing AT&T has over Verizon is the iPhone and once Verizon also has the iPhone, AT&T could be looking at some troubles ahead.

AT&T’s exclusive contract with Apple has been up since the beginning of this year. My gut tells me that Verizon would have already made a move to get the iPhone; except, that would have cannibalized the up and coming Android phones. Instead, Verizon is taking on as many Android users as they can (probably worked this out with Android vendors to keep them happy), locking them into the Android system (Verizon is offering a deal where you can get an early upgrade to one of the new smartphones, if your contract is set to expire anytime this year). As soon as the year is up and Verizon locks as many users as they can into the Android that is when the announcement will come; iPhone to Verizon. Now the hold-outs will be able to get onto the iPhone and anyone who was on AT&T, just for the iPhone can defect. In addition, anyone locked into the Android, who really wanted an iPhone, will end up paying full price for the iPhone – and people will do this! Some consumers will likely be angry with Verizon, but in the end, Verizon wouldn’t have done anything wrong. In fact, it would have all been a pretty good business move, to keep most parties happy.

So what is my point? What does this have to do with the new Blackberry being on AT&T? Well, while the Android and iPhone are both competing for the innovated user who likes the “toy” factor on their smartphones (toy in a good way), the Blackberry is the one phone meant mainly for the corporate user. If your AT&T, you have had your time with the iPhone and can only now sit and watch to see how your user base reacts to Verizon finally putting it on their network. If you are Blackberry (RIM), you might not be too happy Verizon has a new love called Android. So the new Blackberry going to AT&T seems like a match made in heaven. AT&T starts concentrating on the corporate end user space, allowing Verizon to cannibalize itself between the Android and iPhone systems. In addition, with AT&T being on the GSM network (which can be used virtually anywhere in the world), corporate end users that travel globally make a lot of sense.

Looking towards the future, I see a shift of end users between Verizon and AT&T. Verizon is finally staying on top of new and innovative phones, and gone are the days of waiting 2 years for yesterday’s best smartphone. AT&T on the other hand will continue to compete in the Android and iPhone market, but will shift it’s interest to Blackberry and the corporate end users. While these are all conspiracy theories wrapped around some factual evidence, I throw in the caveat that it might be far from the truth. The only hope is that considering the theories at least passes some time away. : )