Sprint is now accepting pre-orders for Samsung's Galaxy Tab Nov. 14 for $399 with a two-year contract, offering a different approach from Verizon Wireless' plans for the tablet computer based on Google's Android 2.2 operating system.
Verizon Oct. 20 vowed to sell the Tab for $599 without contract Nov. 11, offering instead a $20 a month data plan for 1GB data of data.
Sprint Oct. 25 took a different tack, offering the hardware for $200 less with a new line or eligible upgrade and two-year service agreement on a 3G Tablet Mobile Broadband plan.
Sprint customers must choose a 2GB data plan with unlimited messaging for $29.99 per month or a 5GB data plan with unlimited messaging for $59.99 per month.
That means that after the initial $399 purchase, Tab on Sprint will cost consumers as little as $720 over the life of a 2GB contract, and as much as $1,440 over the life of a 5GB contract. Total cost for device plus rate plan is $1,120 for 2GB plan to $1840 for a 5GB rate plan.
That model could price Sprint out of the market for the Tab versus Apple's iPad, which costs $499 for the WiFi-only model and $629 for the base WiFi/3G model.
Analysts already skeptical about Verizon's $599.99 purchase as being too high to effectively compete with the iPad are sure to take a dim view of Sprint's go-to-market model.
Weak sales of the Tab on Sprint and Verizon will make a modern-day Nostradamus out of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who said on the company's fourth-quarter earnings call Oct. 18 that the Android and other tablets couldn't compete with the iPad on price.
Consumers may preorder the Tab now at any participating Sprint store with the purchase of a $50 Sprint gift card, a sort of down payment. Best Buy Oct. 25 also began offering the Galaxy Tab from Sprint and Verizon with a $50 down payment.
Customers who preorder the Tab will have their name added to the "device wait list" and be contacted to complete their Tab purchase, with the device made available Nov. 14.
Weighing in at less than a pound, the Samsung Galaxy Tab includes 7-inch touch-screen display, smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad display.
Two advantages of the Tab over the iPad: the device features dual cameras for video calling and supports Adobe's Flash technology.
Sprint said its Sprint Navigation technology can also be added for $2.99 per day or $9.99 per month.