Yesterday word leaked out, via Engadget, that Verizon Wireless is educating its staff on how to treat the iPad as an opportunity. According to some internal communication, since the first version of the iPad will be Wi-Fi only, Verizon believes that it's the perfect opportunity to tout its MiFi device. For example, the leaked internal document features some choice quotes like
"Why pay more for the 3G version & get 3G service on an overloaded network with limited coverage?"
One would also assume that Sprint has something similar in the works, given its own Overdrive device.
I've been thinking of picking up the WiFi version of the iPad myself, and upgrading my existing Sprint 3G USB dongle to a MiFi-ish device, so Verizon Wireless isn't so far off with its latest idea. Then again, let's think about the negatives associated with this concept. First, Verizon charges $60 a month for 5GB of data; compare that with $30 a month for AT&T's unlimited data plan. Second, there's an initial charge for the MiFi device. That said, in my experience Verizon does have a better data network, with faster connectivity and less lag, so depending on what you're planning to do with your iPad, it may be the better option.
As for the future, Verizon Wireless recently issued some stats from its trials of its forthcoming 4G network. If the numbers are to be believed, they are substantially faster than any existing 3G network, with peak download speeds of 40-50 Mbps (megabits per second) and peak upload speeds of 20-25 Mbps. Compare that with the Sprint Overdrive testing that Matt performed in Seattle, where he received 4.10 Mbps download and 0.47 Mbps upload (he did say he only had 40 percent signal strength on 4G) and you've got a screaming iPad coming soon.
The biggest question in my mind is whether or not Apple is doing itself a disservice by releasing the WiFi version first. Of course, the company wants to get the iPad to market as fast as it can, but will people form a negative association with the iPad since they can only use it on WiFi or on another carrier's network?
With the iPad being available for pre-order on Friday and for sale officially April 3rd, we'll know soon enough.