AT&T CEO says iPad will mostly be used on Wi-Fi, not 3G

AT&T CEO says iPad will mostly be used on Wi-Fi, not 3G

Summary: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has made the prediction that most future iPad buyers will be connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi and not on the carrier's 3G network. But is saying that in public smart for their business?

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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has made the prediction that most future iPad buyers will be connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi and not on the carrier's 3G network. But is saying that in public smart for their business?

According to Reuters, Stephenson said, "My expectation is that there's not going to be a lot of people out there looking for another subscription," continuing that Apple's new tablet computer would be a primarily "Wi-Fi driven product."

The statement isn't entirely encouraging of getting consumers to subscribe to their plans, at least AT&T is being honest and real with itself. If you're already plunking down $500 or $600 on a gadget, the last thing you want to add is another monthly fee. And unless an owner has the attachable keyboard, I can't see anyone doing any serious work on it ALL the time.

Stephenson also makes the point that most iPad consumers will already have access to plenty of Wi-Fi networks, such as at home, work or coffee shops (although it's AT&T who provides the free Wi-Fi to its consumers at Starbucks nationwide).

This might be where it really becomes evident that the iPad is not an enlarged iPhone. It may look it, but besides the lack of phone capabilities and a built-in camera, it won't be used in the same ways or at the same times you would use an iPhone. Would you really pull 9.7-inch tablet out of your bag while waiting for the bus? No. But you would do that with a smartphone, thus the need for 3G networks then and not in the case as much for the iPad.

Thus, perhaps it is a smart move that Stephenson and AT&T position their game plan and business expectations around this idea to focus in on promoting 3G subscriptions for smartphones and handhelds rather than a shiny tablet computer.

Topics: Mobility, Browser, CXO, Hardware, Networking, AT&T, Wi-Fi

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4 comments
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  • Define "mostly"

    I usually use my G1 on Wifi, and I would bet most iPhone users likewise use Wifi more than 50% of the time versus 3G, simply because most people are usually at home or work more than 50% of the day. But that doesn't mean that most people won't want or use 3G at least some of the time.
    Michael Kelly
    • Exactly.

      I plan to pick up a 3G version of the iPad, knowing full well that Most of my web experience will be from Wifi.

      However, it will be nice for on long trips, where I don't want to carry my laptop, and wifi spots may be sparse, to be able to connect to the cellular data network, to keep up on e-mail, Facebook, and news.

      And of course what is nice is that it is a non-contract, on demand service. So if this month I am traveling, I can activate the service for the month, and get all my e-mail, and stay connected, if not then just cancel the service.

      I have seen other people say well why buy the 3g version, when you can just buy a mobile hotspot? My simple answer is, why do I want to get roped into a 2 year contract, to which I get billed 30+ dollars a month, regardless if I use the service or not. Not to mention it is yet one more device that you get to carry around with you. No thanks.
      Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
  • I think there will be more 3G than they think

    I see the iPad as more of an entertainment device than a substitute for a laptop. I would see myself streaming TV shows while on the bus or train, downloading movies/pod casts while travelling, syncing up my music, connecting to my online file storage service, checking Gmail, uploading pictures to online sharing sites, checking twitter/facebook etc. All on 3G. If I am at home, I'm going to use my laptop or PC, not an iPad. I dont drink coffee so I'm never at Starbucks. People that purchase a 3G capable iPad are going to use 3G allot.
    tgschmidt
  • RE: AT&T CEO says iPad will mostly be used on Wi-Fi, not 3G

    The AT&T analysis is dead-on. But I think the author
    missed the point a little bit when she said, "If
    you?re already plunking down $500 or $600 on a gadget,
    the last thing you want to add is another monthly
    fee."

    The issue is not about buying a $15 a month
    subscription to support a $500 commodity! That's the
    way our lives work: We buy power subscription and
    cable subscription to support a flat-panel tv
    purchase. We buy skating club membership to support
    the purchase of expensive skates. We purchase 3G
    wireless access to support iphone purchase. iPhone
    actually costs about $600 as well (if not for the
    contract that underwrites the difference).

    I believe the AT/T analysis is saying: iPad buyers
    would mostly already be iPhone users who already have
    existing 3G plans with their carriers. They won't want
    to buy yet another 3G plan for data on another device.

    What we should all be promoting now is for tethering
    support b/w the iPhone and the iPad so people could
    actually use the data plans they already have on both
    co-complimentary devices.
    pobiefuna