Imagining the LTE iPad

5:25 PM -- On the face of it, delivering an Long Term Evolution (LTE)-capable iPad before unleashing a 4G iPhone makes a good degree of sense for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)

The Mac maven could use the bigger device as a test-pad for 4G issues while having to worry a little less about the size of the chips and the battery life than it would with the iPhone.

Apple's carrier partners, meanwhile, would get to test-drive a very popular tablet on their new LTE networks while not having to deal with the inevitable millions of activations that will follow the launch of an LTE iPhone.

I suspect that cost will be the largest gating factor for Apple and its carrier partners involving an LTE iPad. IHS iSuppli found that High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498)'s use of LTE in the ThunderBolt added $39.75 to the total cost of $262 to build the smartphone. Apple and its carriers would have to decide if users get to eat the extra end-cost or they want to subsidize the devices with a long-term contract.

We also don't know yet exactly how much traffic an LTE iPad would consume. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) said recently that current tablets consume five times more data than smartphones. That could potentially increase with more video access and multimedia streaming over LTE.

That might possibly stress the network in a few parts of San Franscisco, Silverlake, Williamsburg and Brooklyn to begin with, but you can bet that carriers will be watching traffic patterns on LTE like a hawk.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

FredStein 12/5/2012 | 4:58:37 PM
re: Imagining the LTE iPad

Intriguing, an LTE iPad. For the device, should add about $40 to the retail price based on  gross margins (per Trefis). But the real cost issue is incremental data plan. Already, many iPad users rely on WiFi, vs their 3G because of data rate charges

Given the above, how big in the incremental market for LTE iPads? Apple is famous for keeping the number of product offers low. Just my guess, Apple will take advantage of back-to-school and then Xmas shopping seasons without LTE.

Again my guess: In mid 2012, other advances, such as next gen silicon for CPU/GPU, SSD, and  LTE chips enables yet another round of "must have' product refreshes from Apple.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:58:36 PM
re: Imagining the LTE iPad

Judging by 3G iPads people don't seem very keen on taking out an additional subscription. Many operators therefore offer, or are looking to offer, multi-device data plans where you share the monthly data quota across devices. Perhaps there's a $10 fee to add a new device, but a full data plan is not needed.

That seems like a reasonably attractive model.

billsblots 12/5/2012 | 4:58:34 PM
re: Imagining the LTE iPad

As there is not and will not be VZW 4G in my region around Richmond, VA until late in deployment I may have an advantage in waiting for the maturation and failures of various products trying to bring the promise of 4G to fruition.  I'm on a 3G ATT iPad now and decided to skip the iPad2 and wait for a 4G iPad.

Will there be any sense in buying a $300 4G smartphone when I use the phone just for texting my daughters all day?  I do Web browsing and related streaming via the iPad, and if a 4G iPad comes about I will probably do even more (hopefully the "dumbed down" highly pixelated and "blocky" video quality in iPad 3G mode will be replaced with the virtual HD video quality we see in wi-fi mode).

Based on the performance of my daughter's HTC VZW 4G Thunderbolt the iPad platform is a heckuva lot more stable.  Her Thunderbolt just had an update and it sends texts randomly to unintended people in her address list (how dangerous and potentially embarrassing could that be?).  It still shuts off and restarts randomly.  She had to download an app to handle texting that performs better than the native program.  I don't know about the newest and future VZW 4G handset models but the HTC is at best, "quirky", and I wouldn't spend $300 on it.

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