The lowest pre-tax price at which you can obtain cellular service for your iPhone and laptop today is $130 per month -- $70 for the iPhone and $60 for the laptop.
You can cut that to $60, or more than half, by using the newest 32-gigabyte version of the Apple iPod Touch in combination with
MiFi device offered by
. In this latter configuration, the Novatel MiFi device provides for ubiquitous service to up to five simultaneous devices, including your iPod Touch and laptop(s).
What about voice service, you say? This is clearly the point at which this "synthetic iPhone" solution will not be acceptable to every single consumer. Using the iPod Touch, you can use any of numerous available VoIP programs such as
, just to name a couple. Some of these providers have choices between pay-as-you-go a-la-carte pricing and monthly subscriptions. Unlike a traditional wireless circuit-switched carrier such as
, these can take many forms and for many users cost well below $10 per month, depending on the usage pattern.
One objection against the iPod Touch + MiFi solution is that these are two devices instead of one. This is true, but considering that the combined size and weight of these two devices is almost identical to one regular iPhone, this is not a big deal. Furthermore, when you are in your own home and don't need to carry around the MiFi device, you benefit from the fact that the iPod Touch is thinner and lighter than the iPhone.
Surely there are other objections against the iPod Touch + MiFi combination as well, including battery life and multiple chargers.
However, the "synthetic iPod" also confers one other benefit except for giving the user service at half the price: No relationship with AT&T. I am the opposite of those malcontents who perpetually claim to "hate " AT&T, but for those who love their iPhone, but would pick
carrier except AT&T if given the choice, the fact is that the choice is already here!
This should be a huge selling point by Verizon Wireless, Sprint and Novatel -- but for some reason they have never pressed this important argument.
So there you have it: You can cut your iPhone monthly bill in half, and get your service on Verizon Wireless or Sprint, today, by using the iPod Touch + MiFi combo.
At the time of publication, Wahlman was long AAPL and NVTL.
Anton Wahlman was a sell-side equity research analyst covering the communications technology industries from 1996 to 2008: UBS 1996-2002, Needham & Company 2002-2006, and ThinkEquity 2006-2008.