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No word on the elusive Verizon iPhone, but the two companies appear to be one step closer
Apple made a big announcement Thursday: beginning October 28, the iPad will be available at over 2,000 Verizon Wireless stores nationwide, marking the first time that Verizon has partnered with Apple.
The announcement comes oh-so-conveniently after recent reports from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that Apple is developing a CDMA-compatible iPhone that Verizon will be selling early next year. Apple has not commented on such rumors, but WSJ added fuel to the fire when it reported Tuesday that Apple is also in discussions with two Indian wireless operators, Reliance Communications Ltd. and Tata Teleservices Ltd., to offer a version of the iPhone that will operate on CDMA (code division multiple access) technology (CDMA is the technology on which Verizon’s platform operates).
A slight buzz-kill for this announcement: the iPad that Verizon will be offering is not CDMA-compatible, which casts some doubt on the prospect of an iPhone that would operate on Verizon’s platform (“oh ye of so little faith…”). Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller declined to comment on whether Apple was working on developing a CDMA-compatible iPad, as she was no doubt savvy to my real question, which was: “when is Verizon going to get the iPhone?!”
So, that leaves the next question: if the iPad isn’t CDMA-compatible, how will it work? Answer: Verizon will offer the iPad Wi-Fi model, which will be bundled with Verizon’s MiFi 2200 wireless modem, a lightweight, credit-card-thin modem that users can slip into their pockets or bags to create a personal Wi-Fi cloud everywhere they go.
The bundles are priced equivalent to Apple’s prices for the iPad with 3G connectivity: the 16GB iPad Wi-Fi + MiFi bundle is $629.99, the 32GB bundle is $729.99, and the 64GB bundle is $829.99. Monthly data plans will start at $20 for 1GB.
While the idea of a MiFi standalone wireless modem sounds awesome in itself, I don’t see how or why consumers would choose to purchase a bundle option that requires having to remember to carry around a modem along with the iPad when they could just go with AT&T and get built-in 3G connectivity (I can already see myself leaving the modem in a pair of pants and then washing it, like I did so many times with my Subway pass). Furthermore, I don’t see why consumers would opt to pay more to have to carry around more stuff (Verizon will offer a monthly data plan starting at $20 for 1GB while AT&T’s data plan offers 2GB for $25).
On the upside, having the MiFi modem means that consumers will be able to connect a number of other devices as well, like laptops and cell phones. But while the iPad has 10 hours of battery life, the MiFi modem has only four hours ofactive-use battery life, so that could pose a problem for the bundle.
When asked why consumers would choose the Verizon iPad bundle, Verizon's executive director of corporate communications, Brenda Raney, responded via email: "You have the nation’s most reliable network at your fingertips," adding, "With the MiFi 2200 you won’t have to search for a hotspot. You have the Verizon Wireless network at your fingertips and you can share your MiFi connection with five other WiFi enabled devices. Use the MiFi 2200 on the Verizon Wireless network once with your friends, and they will remind you to bring your MiFi with you." Raney also mentioned that customers can purchase a nifty little case that will hold the iPad and the modem together.
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