Why Verizon (or any carrier for that matter) doesn’t make sense for Apple’s rumored web tablet

Updated on 12 November 2019 by

awt There have been plenty of rumors flying around as of late that try to implicate Verizon readying LTE by 2010 for the elusive, and frequently rumored, Apple web tablet (let’s call it the AWT for short). However I find it extremely hard to believe that these two things have any correlation, and in fact feel that it makes much more sense for the AWT to not have any sort of cellular data connection whatsoever.

Here’s why: Apple has sold 21.17 million iPhones as of the end of Q2 2009 (that doesn’t include millions of additional iPhone 3GSs which were launched in June). Launching the AWT on another carrier would make Apple compete against itself. This would immediately cause consumers to have to pick between the AWT and the iPhone which is as bad for Apple’s business as it sounds. Consumers are highly unlikely to sign up for two carriers. Launching the AWT on another carrier would also weaken Apple’s relationship with AT&T, which isn’t something that you want to do when AT&T is home to an estimated 6.4 million iPhones here in the US (as of the end of April 2009). Apple has already tied 6.4+ million people into AT&T at some point for a two-year contract. How likely is it that people will terminate their contracts early and give up their iPhones to go to Verizon for the AWT? Highly unlikely I say. If the AWT launched with Verizon, you bet it wouldn’t sell well early on because many of the users (6.4+ million of them!) who love the iPhone are already locked into AT&T; Apple wouldn’t sacrifice the opportunity to sell to that huge number of people by launching on another carrier.

What if Apple launched the AWT with cellular data on AT&T? Well I’m sure a few of you out there cringe at that idea, knowing that AT&T’s networked is already being stretched to its limits and they haven’t even turned on the iPhone 3GS’s speedier 7.2Mbps HSDPA. But let’s say that the network could handle a bunch of AWTs; it still doesn’t make any sense for them to launch with AT&T. Why? Because users are unlikely to pay for two separate data plans (one for the AWT and one for the iPhone), it would be seem redundant and not even remotely cost-effective in this slow economic time.

Of course we need to consider the size of the device. One of the most frequently cited rumors is that Apple has been buying a bunch of 9-10 inch touchscreens, and these will be used in the AWT. Since Apple doesn’t provide any form of cellular data connection to its existing computer line, I don’t think it is likely that they will to a device that large any time in the near future. The 13 inch MacBook is just 3 inch larger than the AWT is rumored to be. I doubt Apple sees users carrying these devices around in their pockets. It makes a lot of sense to give the iPhone cellular data because it can be easily pocketed and carried on your person. But the AWT certainly doesn’t seem to be targeted to that sort of usage.

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Kevin Payne says:

    Sharing: Why Verizon (or any carrier for that matter) doesn’t make sense for Apple’s rumored web tablet:.. http://bit.ly/mkQda

  2. Chippy says:

    I agree with you Ben. Unless the device comes with some highly locked-down whispernet built into the contract, it will be a home-focused wifi-only device.

  3. Vakeros says:

    Well reasoned Ben. Though Apple might (in fact almost certainly does) see an AWT as a completely – non competeting product. It would be more of a competitor to the iTouch. It comes down to its main purpose. If it doesn’t have phone capabilities it won’t directly be competeting with itself. Taking this as a given – then it could be released with another carrier. After all, Apple want you to buy this and the iPhone. If you could simply tether it then where would be Apple’s profit? Apart from caring about their relationship with AT&T (which they might not worry about – after all AT&T have gained from being the sole purveyor of the iPhone in the US)
    This would then suggest the opposite to your conclusion – namely that they will aim to use a different carrier.
    So I conclude that if they don’t go with any carrier (and just sell in the shops), then you might be right about the tethering. However if they are going to use a carrier, then I think the rumours could well have some truth to them.

  4. Ben says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that Apple would be competing against themselves in terms of the devices, but what I’m saying is that they would have essentially locked away the big 6.4+ million demographic of people as potential customers because they are already in an agreement with AT&T, and it is highly unlikely that they would sign up to two carriers at once just to get the AWT from Verizon, and less likely that they would part with their iPhone and go for a Verizon phone so that they could get the AWT. By not locking the AWT into a specific carrier, they leave open that group of 6.4+ million US iPhone users that are likely to buy the AWT especially if they can tether to it.

  5. DanM says:

    I believe the best way to go with this device is to include a sim card slot and give us the ability to use it how we want. If you want to tether then thats fine but i on the other hand dont want to spend more money a month on AT&T’s shoddy network. The speed is not worth the price. If apple just sells it without a carrier for a decent price and with a sim card slot then they would sell alot more because anyone that has a current data plan with att can use the device on the web with 3g service. Simple solution and it would make customers very happy and they will buy them up like crazy because of the freedom.

  6. MCscrooge says:

    Agree with DanM, this is exactly what the market needs, a super designed little Mac iMedia Tablett, without any boundaries with a plugin simslot and the fantastic Mac OS slimmed down on the machine, no gsm phone but to be used with skype and the likes.

    This would Totally sell for all with an iMac desktop machine and a iPhone…

    Cant wait to get one :-)

  7. Mikieatton says:

    This is assuming that AT&T keeps the exclusive deal with Apple. If Verizon gets a CDMA version of the iphone, I can see this being tied to Verizon as well. The people who wanted the Iphone bad enough to switch to AT&T have already done so. Now the opportunity lies with Verizon and it’s marketshare in the US.

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