We already knew that there would not be any contracts on the data bundles meaning that AT&T will not be subsidising these devices to reduce the device cost and lock in customers. That's OK for AT&T given they are the only network supporting Apple products in the U.S.
We also knew the pricing - US$14.99 for 250MB (OK) and US$29.99 for Unlimited (awesome!). I think we are all interested to see if 'Unlimited' will have some sort of cap at say 5 or 10GB.
But what's really new is how the user interacts with their 3G service. All functions (activating, payment, changing plans, deactivating) are managed from the iPad itself using a 3G manager application. You also get usage stats on how much data you have left if you have the 250MB bundle and pro-active usage alerts - excellent!
These functions must have quite a strong tie-in to the network operator to enable payment, provision the service and extract these usage details. So what's incredible is that there does not appear to be any reference to AT&T in this 3G application - the network operator is hidden and the user doesn't need to know who it is! It is not clear who the payment is with as it looks to be via credit card (rather than your iTunes account) but is that settled through Apple or directly with AT&T?
It will be fascinating to see how this model translates outside the U.S. where almost all countries (NZ excepted) have multiple iPhone provider networks. Will every operator that wants to support the iPad need to work with Apple to provide the approved pricing plans and network integration? Will the iPad only work on such approved networks?
[Edit May 5th: It looks like Apple is taking a very open position with the iPad on 3G. Going by this post from iPhone New Zealand the iPad will accept any SIM card and all you have to do is enter the APN details. As the iPad is launched in more countries I would expect the iPad to detect the SIM card and auto-fill the APN field.]
Other related posts:
Brands producing apps only for iPhone
Steve Jobs: Rock Star!
The features Kiwis miss out on with Android 1.6
Comment by gopher, on 16-Mar-2010 15:55
Will be VERY interesting to see how this translates to NZ!! May be why countries such as NZ haven't made it onto the release schedule yet (as they probably haven't even started negotiating with the providers here).
Given that Vodafone still have exclusivity on the iPhone, but the XT data network probably suits the iPad better (using 850 instead of 900MHz) it will be fun for Apple to sort out!
It also means that my idea of buying an iPad in the US and then using it here may not be quite as easy as I thought. Oh well, maybe I just save some cash and buy the WiFi only version ...
Comment by andrewinwlg, on 31-Mar-2010 09:36
What happened to the article "iPhone still the best option for Telecom"? I can see it from my RSS feed and from the geekzone search page, but the link just leads here! Did it get deleted?
Comment by Arminius, on 4-May-2010 16:17
The iPad is not covered by the same distribution agreement as the iPhone agreement so anyone can order the device from a reseller - like you would a Mac or Apple software. The Vodafone iPhone contract is also not exclusive which is why Apple sells iPhones in competition to Vodafone on the NZ Apple store.
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