Today Verizon Wireless announced that the iPad will start to be available on October 28, 2010. But connecting an iPad to Verizon’s cellular network won’t be seamless: For 3G access customers will need to purchase a bundle that includes a MiFi mobile hotspot, a pocket-size device that creates a personal Wi-Fi cloud for five enabled devices. The iPad still isn’t compatible with Verizon’s CDMA network, it seems, which means the MiFi device will be required in order to make that cellular data connection work.
Verizon will offer the following data plans for the Apple iPad; $20 for 1GB ($20/1GB overage), $35 for 3GB ($10/1GB overage) or $50 for 5GB ($10/1GB overage). Your Verizon Wireless store will sell only Wi-Fi models of the iPad (bundled with the MiFi 2200 for 3G) in all storage capacities. Here is how Verizon will price the iPad; 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi $499.99, 32GB iPad with Wi-Fi $599.99, 64GB iPad with Wi-Fi $699.99.
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.
Another theory is that the Wi-Fi-only Verizon iPad is like a “clearance sale” to flush the Wi-Fi only version out of stock to make room for the more popular 3G edition. We don’t buy this. Apple will probably always sell a Wi-Fi only version, which’ll attract different buyers–including folk who own an Android phone that can do Wi-Fi 3G connection local network sharing. Or those who have data contracts with different networks (possibly overseas) and already own Mifi-like devices.