Depending on your expectations, Apple Inc.’s latest wonder device is either a major let down or about what was expected from a company that has made billions of dollars off its iPhone franchise.
Following weeks of “official” anticipation, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs strutted on stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco this morning and unveiled the company’s oddly named iPad device. Looking like a XXL version of an iPhone, the iPad features an updated version of the iPhone’s operating system working through a 9.7-inch touchscreen and powered by an Apple developed 1 GHz processor.
For wireless fiends, the device follows the lead of the iPhone sporting 3G capabilities compatible with 850/1900/2100 MHz networks using GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA technology, which means domestic support for AT&T Mobility’s network. Apple did note that models shipping with 3G support would be unlocked allowing customers to swap out SIM cards for different carriers, but for U.S. customers the technology support leaves AT&T Mobility as the only real option.
The reliance on the same wireless technology as the current iPhone 3GS could be seen as a disappointment to some that were looking to break out of their current network issues at the hands of AT&T Mobility’s overburdened 3G network. The carrier has repeatedly said it was upgrading its 3G capabilities to handle the increased load being placed on it by the iPhone and other data hungry smartphones.
This also means no support initially for Verizon Wireless or Sprint Nextel Corp.’s CDMA networks or any mention of support for next-generation networks using LTE or WiMAX technology.
Also similar to the iPhone, Apple said data packages for the device would run $30 per month for unlimited transmission, with a cheaper $15 per month plan capped at 250 megabytes of data transmission. No contract is required for the service, and alas no subsidy is being provided, and AT&T Mobility is also throwing in free usage of its extensive Wi-Fi hotspots around the world.
Pricing for the device runs $499, $599 and $699 depending on the amount of embedded flash memory support of 16 gigabytes, 32 GB and 64 GB, with the addition of 3G connectivity adding $130 to the price of each model. The pricing slots the iPad in between the company’s iPhone/iPod Touch models and its MacBook laptop computers. iPad models sporting 3G connectivity are expected to be available in April with non-3G models available one month earlier.
Along with the physical features of the device, Apple also announced its new iBook platform that is similar to models currently being used by Amazon for its Kindle and Barnes & Noble for its Nook e-reader.