Apple iPad a New Market Catalyst for ISPs, Operators: Report

The launch of the Apple iPad should rouse Internet service providers and mobile operators to enter a new market, much like the lucrative SMS market, says research firm Strand Consult. New opportunities needn't all be for Apple.

The Apple iPad's launch should act as a needed catalyst for growth in the value-added services market, influencing it in non-Apple-related areas, research firm Strand Consult suggested in a new report.
Mobile operators and ISPs (Internet service providers) can use the launch of the iPad, explains Strand, to kickstart a market not unlike the SMS market, which currently earns worldwide operators billions of dollars.
Mobile operators today have accepted a role in the life of the iPad, and similar devices, as a "dumb bitpipe," making money on just data traffic, states the firm, while Apple "would like to handle the billing relationship in an increasing number of areas."
The scenario is described as forcing operators into a "walled garden strategy," instead of a more lucrative open-garden strategy.
"We believe that mobile operators around the world have many possibilities if they take advantage of their large customer bases, the billing relationships they have to their customers and the intelligence built into their networks," wrote the firm in an April 15 statement on the report.
It continues, "This can be sold to service providers that can then create, market and sell applications and services that are far more intelligent than those available today for devices like the iPad."
Network executives such as AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson have warned that the days of all-you-can-eat data plans - walled gardens - will soon be coming to an end. As more sophisticated devices arrive on the market, taxing the limits of wireless networks, carriers can't afford to meet changing needs at static prices.
"For the industry, we'll progressively move toward more of what I call variable pricing, so the heavy consumers will pay more than the lower consumers," Stephenson said during a speech at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference March 2.
The Apple iPad is currently offered to U.S. customers with WiFi connectivity alone, though a version offering 3G services from AT&T will arrive in coming weeks.
Apple announced April 14 that the iPad has been so successfully received in the United States, that it regrettably needs to delay the device's international launch by one month.