Determined not to leave all the tablet fun to its hardware partners, Verizon Wireless announced its own branded device, the LTE-powered Ellipsis 7 tablet, on Tuesday.
While it's somewhat unexpected for a carrier to offer a branded tablet, Verizon Wireless has been dropping hints along the way. The carrier filed for a trademark last month for the Ellipsis 7 name, as well as for a new mobile video, voice, and data service also sporting the Ellipsis name. Today we get the device, although Verizon doesn't seem to be preloading it with any such service.
The Android tablet will feature a Redbox Instant app for streaming videos, Amazon Kindle for ebooks, a front-facing camera plus LTE for video chat, and Verizon Messages, the carrier's own tablet chat app. It will be sold online and in Verizon stores starting Thursday November 7 for $250. It's also offering $100 off the purchase of any new tablet, including the new iPad Air, for those that sign up for a new two-year service contract. (See Texting Goes to the Cloud and Tablet Hunting: New 4G iPads in Manhattan.)
Verizon did write in a blog post that the Ellipsis 7 was the first product from Verizon Wireless in the Ellipsis family, suggesting that more devices, and perhaps the mysterious Ellipsis service, are in the works.
It's usually a hard sell when a carrier tries to compete in an area that others -- established tablet brands such as Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Samsung Corp. , in this case -- already dominate. But, it's not a bad idea for Verizon to introduce a low-cost tablet on which it can showcase its LTE connectivity and its own services.
It doesn't appear to be doing that so far, although Verizon Messages and the Redbox partnership are unique to the carrier. But the Ellipsis 7 is just a first move: Verizon's public relations team did not immediately respond to questions about long-term plans for the Ellipsis family. (See Verizon/Redbox Take a Swing at Netflix.)
Now that it is free from Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD)'s ownership and no longer co-marketing its cable joint venture, the operator should be free to focus on building tightly integrated Verizon/Verizon Wireless services. Video and Verizon's multiscreen ambitions certainly fit the bill, and tablets are a perfect vehicle for viewing. (See Verizon, MSOs Kill Wireless JV and Vodafone Agrees to $130B Verizon Stake Sale.)
Hopefully this is just the start of Verizon's tablet-plus-services foray. It has the potential to be pretty exciting and certainly would answer the question -- "Why is Verizon doing its own a tablet?"
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading