Some quick thoughts and analysis on what may or may not be the final pricing plans for Verizon’s upcoming iPhone and its embedded Wi-Fi hotspot capability — and why we think the upcoming South by Southwest geekfest will be a big real-world test for Verizon’s network capabilities:
Unlimited? Get it While You Can! Despite a lot of wonderfully insightful commentary about why they shouldn’t, Verizon Tuesday confirmed that it would indeed offer an unlimited data plan for the iPhone upon launch — and then immediately backtracked a bit, saying it might only last a little while, whatever that means. As Karl Bode and others pointed out it does make sense for Verizon to offer such a plan chiefly to entice all the folks with older “unlimited” iPhone plans with AT&T to switch and become a new, long-term contract Verizon customer. Our take? If you really want an iPhone from Verizon by all means sign up for the unlimited plan if you can, because it won’t last.
Will 2 GB for Hotspot Usage be Enough? The reason why the Silicon Valley geek patrol got so enthused about a true “unlimited” Verizon iPhone data plan was because they thought it meant that they would be able to use the embedded Wi-Fi router capability in unlimited fashion as well. But Verizon put the kibosh on that idea later in the day Tuesday when the company confirmed that hotspot capability would cost an extra $20 per month with a 2 GB per month cap on data downloads. (The hotspot and its ability to be a huge data pipeline was one of the main reasons we argued that there wouldn’t be a true unlimited data plan for the Verizon iPhone so in a sense we were correct. Kinda.)
In doing so, Verizon probably dashed the dreams of the cutting-edge Apple-flavored geekonistas, who would love nothing more than to have just an iPhone and an iPad, with the former’s hotspot acting as the broadband pipe to the latter’s excellent display. But with just 2 GB a month to play with, I don’t think the combo will be as popular as it might be.
Is Verizon Ready for SXSW? If chance conversations at CES were any barometer, Verizon should be prepared for a lot more AT&T iPhone customer conversions than it might think. Had Verizon set up a booth in Vegas, they could have gotten at least a few thousand instant converts judging by the many complaints and at-times complete inoperability of AT&T iPhones during the show. Since those folks were ready to just throw their AT&T iPhones over the ledge of the Palms Casino’s Ghost Bar it stands to reason that they will leap at any kind of trade-in program that gives them some value. My prediction is that a Verizon iPhone-iPad combo will be the new black at SXSW this year — giving us perhaps the first indication whether or not Verizon’s heralded network can handle the bandwidth surges possible from an iPhone phenomenon.