Waiting for the 3G Model Looks Like the Smart Move

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-03-31 Print this article Print


5. Time for competition

By waiting for the iPad 3G, consumers can also decide if the iPad itself is really right for them. In the coming weeks, iPad competitors will start hitting store shelves. And with a quick trip to Best Buy, consumers can decide if a competing device is something that they would rather have. Those buying an iPad on Saturday won't have that luxury, since the iPad will be beating much of the competition to the market. But those who decide to wait for the 3G version will have ample time to decide exactly which product they really want to use.

6. Future-proofing

At this point, a WiFi-only option might seem like a fine idea, since most folks plan to use the tablet in their home. But who knows what Apple has planned for the iPad? It's entirely possible that when the company announces an update to iPhone OS later this year, it will also provide a feature that users would want to access over 3G. Granted, this is all speculation, but when it comes to Apple, it's better to have the capable model than the hobbled version.

7. No contract

A major sticking point for the iPad 3G is the additional cost of connecting to the Web. Users will be forced to pay $14.99 per month for 250MB of data or $30 per month for unlimited service. But there is one saving grace: Connections to AT&T's 3G network are ad-hoc, which means users won't be forced into contracts. At any point, users can elect to buy 3G connectivity or get rid of it without worrying about early termination fees. That alone makes the cost of paying for 3G just a bit more satisfying.

8. The no-WiFi conundrum

Imagine surfing the Web, streaming content and using apps that require a Web connection. And then, leave the house and try to do the same thing in a car or wherever WiFi isn't available. Not too good, huh? Once the WiFi-only iPad has no connection to a wireless hot spot, it's little more than a big iPod. That's not a good thing. More and more services require a Web connection for users to get the full effect of using them. If they lose that Web connection, they lose usability. That, in turn, causes the iPad to lose its own usability. Remember, WiFi hot spots are not always available.

9. Consider apps

Although it's clear that the 3G version is much better for entertainment seekers, it should also attract those who often use applications. An increasing number of apps are requiring a Web connection to run. If a user doesn't have 3G, those apps will only work when they have access to a WiFi hot spot. That's not good. Apps should be accessible at any time and work the way users want wherever they are. That is far more likely to happen with the iPad 3G than its WiFi counterpart.

10. It's probably what Apple wants you to do

Doing what a company wants you to do isn't always the best practice in the tech industry, but when it comes to the iPad, it just might be. The WiFi-only iPad model seems like an afterthought. It's as if the version came out of Apple's desire to not look like it's forcing people into another monthly fee. But anyone who thinks that Apple doesn't want the vast majority of buyers to opt for the 3G version is totally wrong. Apple wants to build on the iPad and deliver content and features that will work with Web connectivity. The company can make that transition easier with a 3G-enabled iPad.

Realizing that, it might behoove consumers to go with the iPad 3G. Yes, it's more expensive, but it's also Apple's favorite. Going forward, that favoritism could benefit 3G owners and make WiFi-only owners wish they hadn't rushed to store shelves.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel