Prediction: The MiFi will be mobile gadget of the year for many many people. With it’s ability to bundle 5 non-3G devices via Wifi over one 3G connection, its tiny size, reasonable battery life, USB charging/use, built-in web server and very easy operation, it really adds a lot of value to the kit bag and puts a stop to multi-contract situations like this. Sure, built-in 3G can be better quality and the fact that it’s another gadget to carry may annoy some but the advantages, especially if you already have Wifi devices that you want to mobilise, make this one desirable mobile gadget. Which is why we gave it the Best of CeBIT 09 award over at MeetMobility.
I’m not sure how carriers are going to like it though. On one hand you gain some customers but on the other hand you risk losing contracts as they become shared which is probably why Verizon are launching it with very expensive data rates. $15 for a day pass. $40 per month for 250MB and $60 per month for 5GB although the following per-MB cost is only 5c which isn’t bad) Cost (we assume with the plans) is $150 but there’s a $50 mail-in rebate.
In Europe, you’ll get a much better deal. The Mifi will launch through third party resellers at an estimated 200 Euros but it will be unlocked and will allow you to slot your own providers SIM in giving you the choice of the best deals. In many countries you can get 30 days of 3G on a pay as you go plan for under 20 Euros. A day pass, under 2 Euro.
There’s no doubt that the MiFi will sell like hotcakes and is likely to affect the sales of 3G USB dongles. Also expect to see every coffee shop, bar and supermarket dropping these in place which could kill the European paid-for hotspot model overnight. T-Mobile Germany will have a lot of calculating to do on this one. Increased data per 3G channel, shared 3G contracts and loss of Wifi hotspot revenues could be significant. On the other hand, T-Mobile have a chance to put these out for free with a captive server inside that promotes their own content. Free 3G, paid-for TV, opt-in ad injections? It could be a few years before they work out a successful model but i’m sure you’ll see these being given away to households as a content gateway. Is the Mifi the future set top box?
One thing to watch out for though â€“ rogue hotspots. The Mifi has a server inside which I assume is going to be hacked very soon. Public-data farming is going to happen very quickly with these battery powered gadgets around. First targets â€“ tech expo’s.
Verizon’s MiFi will be available on May 17th.
We’re expecting to have final EU pricing and an HSDPA version for review very soon. In the meantime, you can check out a video we made when we tested the Mifi at CeBIT 09. Also check out a glowing report from the New York Times.