NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Verizon (VZ) , which competes with other service providers like AT&T (T) and Sprint (S) in the wireless business, has recently started selling the iPad. Until recently, AT&T was the only wireless carrier offering Apple's (AAPL) popular tablet device.
Although the move may be significant from the perspective of relationship development between Apple and Verizon, as mentioned by
TechCrunch , we believe that direct success of Verizon's current iPad offering may be very limited. Currently the iPad is not compatible with CDMA so users will need to carry a MiFi device to connect to the Internet.
Average data revenue per subscriber (ARPU) is a key driver to our mobile data revenues, and we believe that the current iPad offering will not impact ARPU in the near term. Our current price estimate is $31.69 for Verizon, which is slightly below the current market price.
MiFi Device Requirement
Apple does not have a CDMA version of iPad, which is the mobile technology that Verizon uses, and 3G iPads from the company can only connect to GSM networks. Thus in order to connect the iPad to Verizon's network, a user requires an additional MiFi device that connects to Verizon's CDMA network and creates a local WiFi cloud. The user can then connect his/her iPad to this cloud and access the Internet.
Verizon is selling WiFi iPads bundled with its MiFi device. Although this combination costs the same as the 3G iPad from AT&T, carrying an additional device may deter some users from buying the bundle from Verizon.
iPad is positioned as a quality mobile device and therefore convenience and mobility are important, and we feel the MiFi device presents a handicap. Additionally, the battery life of the MiFi device is significantly less than the iPad's thereby limiting usage time without recharging.
Carrier Data Plans
Verizon is offering three data plans for the iPad which include $20 per month for 1GB data limit, $35 for 3GB and $50 for 5 GB. AT&T is offering two data plans for its 3G iPad -- one for $15 per month for 250 MB data limit and $25 per month for 2GB.
For users who tend to use low to moderate amounts of data (less than 2GB per month), AT&T's data plans is cheaper while Verizon's data plans are a better proposition for heavy data users (more than 2GB per month).
AT&T claims that 98% of its subscribers use less than 2GB of data per month. Since AT&T has 30% of the U.S. wireless subscriber base, we feel this is representative of data usage habits of consumers in the U.S. If Verizon's current bundle is priced for heavy data usage, it might be missing the largest part of the market.
Overall we believe that in order for the iPad to lift Verizon's average revenues for data users, Apple will need to make a CDMA version.
You can see the
complete $31.69 Trefis price estimate for Verizon's stock here.
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