Apple’s iPad is coming to Verizon store shelves starting next week. When that happens, the largest U.S. carrier will have at least one device that will be able to help it match AT&T’s slate of Apple offerings.
Moreover, one can easily guess that Verizon will spend a good amount of marketing dollars trying to prove to customers that its wireless service is better than AT&T’s and that it can deliver a viable experience through Apple products.
However, it’s highly doubtful that Verizon will be able to offer the average consumer an experience that they would prefer over AT&T. While it might be nice that the carrier is finally carrying something of Apple’s, it’s doing so by forcing customers to lug around a peripheral to connect to its 3G network. Furthermore the device it’s offering isn’t as reliable as the device AT&T will sell.
Simply put, AT&T’s iPad offering is far more appealing than Verizon’s.
1. The 3G is built in
The first reason why AT&T has trumped Verizon with its iPad is simple: The iPhone carrier will be carrying the iPad with built-in 3G. That’s extremely important. The iPad is about being mobile and helping consumers be productive from one location to another. Although that’s possible with the help of Verizon’s MiFi hotspot, it’s not the most viable experience. It’s much easier to simply access AT&T’s 3G network rather than connect to a separate product and access 3G. It’s an added step that’s unnecessary.
2. AT&T and Apple are still working closely
AT&T and Apple might not have as close of a relationship as they once did, but the companies are still working closely to deliver viable experiences to customers. Apple could be planning to work with Verizon, but it hasn’t made any public commitment that shows it will expand that partnership. And until it does, it’s probably best for customers to bet on the carrier that does have the solid relationship with Apple.
3. MiFi isn’t the best solution
Apple knows how to build products that work very well. And there’s a reason why it attempts to limit the infiltration of other products into its own. MiFi is one of those products. And it’s possible that it won’t offer the Apple-like experience that customers expect. An iPad with built-in 3G will. That alone should make it the more viable option.
4. Productivity is hampered
How productive can a person really be if they need to have two products with them at all times just to get some work done? Verizon might say that productivity wouldn’t change, since its accessory still helps folks connect to the Web, but an additional product adds the potential for even more problems. Simplicity means something to companies that are trying to make their employees more productive. And Verizon’s solution is making things far more complex than it has to be.
ATandT Ubiquity Remains Major Advantage
5. There is still no Apple-Verizon commitment
At this point, consumers have no idea if the Verizon iPad is simply a one-off agreement between the companies that will go nowhere or the start of something major between the firms. Until folks know that, it’s tough to bet on the Verizon iPad. Not only is the device hobbled compared with AT&T’s offering, but who knows what support for it will look like going forward? If the iPad will be a person’s long-term mobile companion, sticking with the company Apple works closely with now is probably the best bet.
6. Thinking about the person on a budget
Verizon has come up with some rather interesting data plans with its iPad. Rather than offer 250MB of data for $15 and 2GB of data for $29, like AT&T has, the company will offer a $20 plan for 1GB of data, as well as a $35 and $50 plan for 3GB and 5GB, respectively. That’s great for corporate customers. But for folks on a budget or those who won’t use as much 3G data, paying as little as $5 more a month or up to $35 more a month just doesn’t make that much sense. People on a budget would probably do best with AT&T’s data plans.
7. It’s what Steve Jobs wants
Steve Jobs must come into play with the customer’s iPad buying decision. At AT&T, customers will pay the same amount of cash to get an iPad as they would to get an iPad and MiFi hotspot at Verizon. But there is one major difference: AT&T is offering the iPad 3G, while Verizon is selling the WiFi-only iPad. In other words, Apple could be getting more from the sale of the iPad at AT&T than at Verizon, since the 3G model is $130 more expensive than a WiFi-only version with the same capacity hard drive. If Apple is generating more revenue from AT&T than Verizon, Steve Jobs will focus more of his efforts there. And that alone could be enough to draw customers away from Verizon’s service.
8. Sheer availability
Availability could play a role in why AT&T should win out over Verizon. At any retail outlet, including an Apple Store, Target or elsewhere, consumers can get their hands on an iPad 3G and connect to AT&T’s network. The only way they can access Verizon’s network is if they buy the device at a Verizon store. That is a major barrier to entry for Verizon and its customers. And for simplicity’s sake, it just might be easier to go with Verizon’s service because of it.
9. Planning for the future
Who knows what Apple’s future iPad strategy will look like? It’s possible that the company will provide better software for the iPad 3G. It’s also possible that it will stop selling the WiFi-only model at some point in the future. As Apple has proven with its previous updates to the iPhone, it won’t support every model of every device indefinitely. The savvy shopper will invest in the more capable product to hedge against those decisions. That can only mean investing in AT&T’s iPad 3G.
10. How committed will Verizon be?
There is a real question right now over whether or not Verizon will truly promote and support Apple’s iPad as much as it would with a similarly compelling product from an Android vendor. Inevitably, that will depend on how closely Apple and Verizon plan to work together. But if Verizon isn’t as committed to seeing the iPad succeed as it should be, it might be enough to push customers toward AT&T and away from the largest U.S. carrier.