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Sprint abandons plans to sell 4G BlackBerry PlayBook tablet after weak demand

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
Sprint Nextel announced on Friday that it has scrapped plans to sell a 4G WiMax version of Research in Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet after the device failed to generate sufficient interest.

The third-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. revealed that the cancellation was a "mutual decision" with RIM, Reuters reports. The two companies had announced in January that a 4G version of the PlayBook would arrive on Sprint this summer.

After rumors emerged last month that RIM was set to cease production of the Wi-Fi PlayBook, the company denied the report calling the rumors "pure fiction." It appears now that the true story is that the WiMax version of the PlayBook was the one getting the ax. Sprint will continue to sell the Wi-Fi PlayBook.

Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM has indicated that it will instead focus its efforts on a Long Term Evolution version of the tablet that should go into testing this fall. Verizon Wireless, which operates an LTE network, had said prior to the launch that it would sell the PlayBook, but the carrier is currently reconsidering the decision. AT&T declined to comment on whether it plans to sell an LTE PlayBook.

"Right now the majority of tablets are Wi-Fi only," Page Alves, Sprint's head of business services, said. "People use tablets in fixed locations."

The Wi-Fi version of the 7-inch PlayBook arrived in April to reviews that criticized the device as having been "rushed to market," noting the lack of native email and calendar functionality. The tablet's launch was disappointing, with most stores reportedly unable to sell through their initial stock of five units on the first day.



Charter Equity Research analyst Ed Snyder attributed the cancellation to RIM's inability to compete with Apple's iPad. "There's two groups with tablets: Apple and everybody else. RIM's in the second group, definitely," he said.

RIM has struggled to keep up with rapid changes to the mobile industry effected by Apple's iPhone and iPad. The beleaguered company announced last month that it will cut 2,000 jobs, or about 10.5 percent of its workforce.

The BlackBerry maker isn't the only one struggling in the smaller form factor tablet market. Dell announced earlier this week that it had killed off its Streak 5 hybrid tablet/smartphone. Apple CEO Steve Jobs predicted last October that tablets 7 inches and smaller would be "dead on arrival" and be abandoned this year as manufacturers realize that they are too small.
post #2 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The tablet's launch was disappointing, with most stores reportedly unable to sell through their initial stock of five units on the first day.

wtf! It's worse than I thought.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Next...
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post #3 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Right now the majority of tablets are Wi-Fi only," Page Alves, Sprint's head of business services, said. "People use tablets in fixed locations."

This article disagrees. My own anecdotal experience in my part of the world affirms it; supply of 3G models are seriously constrained, up till today. In fact a friend was looking for a 64GB 3G on Wednesday and had to call up favors to get one.
post #4 of 57
Amateur hour really is over.
post #5 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by brisance View Post

This article disagrees. My own anecdotal experience in my part of the world affirms it; supply of 3G models are seriously constrained, up till today. In fact a friend was looking for a 64GB 3G on Wednesday and had to call up favors to get one.

Heh, did that favor entail calling up Apple and begging, after which it was promised that one would ship within 24 hours?

That article was 5 months old, btw. Nice.
post #6 of 57
Apple is killing them, they're just dropping like flies!

Maybe HP is next...
post #7 of 57
"Pure fiction"? More like half a truth. But in corporate-speak that counts as a whole truth I guess.

Romney says corporations are people. Well, they sure lie like them.
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post #8 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by brisance View Post

This article disagrees. My own anecdotal experience in my part of the world affirms it; supply of 3G models are seriously constrained, up till today. In fact a friend was looking for a 64GB 3G on Wednesday and had to call up favors to get one.

I'd be surprised if 3G tablets (iPads or otherwise) are selling faster than WiFi models, as I just don't see the point of carrying around something as big as an iPad all the time, I have a smartphone for that. My personal anecdotal evidence seems to be in line with that: I know about 10 people with iPads now, and none of them have a 3G model.
post #9 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by d-range View Post

I'd be surprised if 3G tablets (iPads or otherwise) are selling faster than WiFi models, as I just don't see the point of carrying around something as big as an iPad all the time, I have a smartphone for that. My personal anecdotal evidence seems to be in line with that: I know about 10 people with iPads now, and none of them have a 3G model.

I see basically two types of iPad users: those that use them primarily at home, and those that use them primarily on their commute. (I commute to NYC every day for over an hour each way.) The home users are predominantly wi-fi. The commuters are predominantly 3G. The commuters also show a little more variation-- 7" models, Androids, etc, mixed in with the by-far dominant iPad. I see very few actually in the office.
post #10 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

I see basically two types of iPad users: those that use them primarily at home, and those that use them primarily on their commute. (I commute to NYC every day for over an hour each way.) The home users are predominantly wi-fi. The commuters are predominantly 3G. The commuters also show a little more variation-- 7" models, Androids, etc, mixed in with the by-far dominant iPad. I see very few actually in the office.

No, there's a third... Those who use them at work. Me for instance.
post #11 of 57
Oh dear. Why did Sprint get mixed up with the BlackBerry PlayBook? Are telcos not able to evaluate a manufacturer's product anymore? The telcos have become so dependent on a manufacturer's "latest and greatest" for contracts and preventing churn they stopped looking and what it is exactly the telco would be pushing.
post #12 of 57
Is there a $200 off fire sale yet?
post #13 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by brisance View Post

This article disagrees. My own anecdotal experience in my part of the world affirms it; supply of 3G models are seriously constrained, up till today. In fact a friend was looking for a 64GB 3G on Wednesday and had to call up favors to get one.

From that article you linked:

"While, this is a big percentage, it does not however mean that the iPad sales have grown. On the contrary, iPad sales in the said quarter decrease from the previous quarter by 5%. "

He is comparing holiday (Oct-Jan'10) iPad sales to (Jan-April'11) iPad sales. No crap! That's why people look at year-over-year growth. You can't get a meaningful comparison by comparing a historically slow quarter to the best quarter. What a freakin' idiot! YOY growth was 183% at the last quarterly report at 9.25 million units sold.
post #14 of 57
all these news of BB lately make me wonder.. what is the real strength of RIM? the corporate messaging and its security? if those are taken from RIM then what advantage left for RIM?

Im new to apple. my 1st product is an iPad, and i bought ipad because i need a tablet and no other company release theri tablet back then, all vaporware or futureware. and im not disappointed with iPad. in my opinion apple dont jist make a larger ipod but they leverage all their hardware and software resource to create their products. thats what other. ompanies lack. a whole tablet strategy.. it seem anyone can make a tablet these days, but only apple think from software to hardware..

i think apple got a huge head start and that head start is not when apple launched ipad 1 but way back before to the 1st iPhone and to the 1st OSX..

thats my take on this situation. im not apple fanatic and i understand some disadvantages of apple's closed system, but their advantage eclipses the disadvantages..

so i hope other companies keep competing in tablet market because. competition is good for us customers.

regards
post #15 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by GotWake View Post

From that article you linked:

"While, this is a big percentage, it does not however mean that the iPad sales have grown. On the contrary, iPad sales in the said quarter decrease from the previous quarter by 5%. "

He is comparing holiday (Oct-Jan'10) iPad sales to (Jan-April'11) iPad sales. No crap! That's why people look at year-over-year growth. You can't get a meaningful comparison by comparing a historically slow quarter to the best quarter. What a freakin' idiot! YOY growth was 183% at the last quarterly report at 9.25 million units sold.

And actually, that article has even more flaws than the ones you pointed out. The first quarter of CY2011 had lower than expected sales because of the Osborne effect (everyone knew the iPad2 was coming out). Additionally, the iPad2 was released during the tail end of that period, and instead of increasing sales, as would be expected, it reduced them initially, because of supply constraints.
post #16 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silencio View Post

Amateur hour really is over.

In reality, amateur hour is eternal.
post #17 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by d-range View Post

I know about 10 people with iPads now, and none of them have a 3G model.

I bought a Wi-Fi iPad2 instead of a 3G because £100 less up front makes a big difference and if I'm ever out and about with my iPad I've always got my iPhone with me too. A tethering add-on for my iPhone contract costs less than half of what an iPad 3G data contract would for the occasional use it gets.
post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by d-range View Post

I'd be surprised if 3G tablets (iPads or otherwise) are selling faster than WiFi models, as I just don't see the point of carrying around something as big as an iPad all the time, I have a smartphone for that. My personal anecdotal evidence seems to be in line with that: I know about 10 people with iPads now, and none of them have a 3G model.

When sales figures were released last year, about half of iPads were 3G and half were WiFi-only. Your sample is clearly not representative.

Note that purchasing the 3G model does not require "carrying around something as big as an iPad all the time". Rather, it only means that the purchaser expects at least some of the time to not have WiFi. When I bought my iPad, I got the 3G version but didn't intend to use 3G other than when I was away on vacation.
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post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

I see basically two types of iPad users: those that use them primarily at home, and those that use them primarily on their commute. (I commute to NYC every day for over an hour each way.) The home users are predominantly wi-fi. The commuters are predominantly 3G. The commuters also show a little more variation-- 7" models, Androids, etc, mixed in with the by-far dominant iPad. I see very few actually in the office.

Realistically, you can forget the 7" models, Androids, etc. So far, nothing matters except the iPad.

They couldn't sell 5 Playbooks per store at launch? Heck, when the iPad came out, they were selling that many every 10 minutes or so.
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post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

When sales figures were released last year, about half of iPads were 3G and half were WiFi-only. Your sample is clearly not representative.

Note that purchasing the 3G model does not require "carrying around something as big as an iPad all the time". Rather, it only means that the purchaser expects at least some of the time to not have WiFi. When I bought my iPad, I got the 3G version but didn't intend to use 3G other than when I was away on vacation.

I was about to do the same for the same reason but then read iPhones would be able to act as a hot spot for an iPad without the need for the additional monthly fee for the iPad. We both have iPhone 3Gs and I understand it requires the 4 to do that so we were about to upgrade to 4 when we read 5 was close .... I see a pattern here
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post #21 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by d-range View Post

I'd be surprised if 3G tablets (iPads or otherwise) are selling faster than WiFi models, as I just don't see the point of carrying around something as big as an iPad all the time, I have a smartphone for that. My personal anecdotal evidence seems to be in line with that: I know about 10 people with iPads now, and none of them have a 3G model.

The moment Apple came out with the WiFi hotspot for the iPhone, the 3G iPad lost a lot of appeal, at least on those carriers where (WiFi) tethering does not cost extra.
post #22 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"There's two groups with tablets: Apple and everybody else. RIM's in the second group, definitely."

Definitely.
post #23 of 57
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Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

"Pure fiction"? More like half a truth. But in corporate-speak that counts as a whole truth I guess.

Romney says corporations are people. Well, they sure lie like them.

Under the law, corporations ARE 'people' with most of the same rights as humans. As for RIM - the end is in site.
post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

Definitely.

there is a third group - DOA and RIM is about to join that group.
post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I was about to do the same for the same reason but then read iPhones would be able to act as a hot spot for an iPad without the need for the additional monthly fee for the iPad. We both have iPhone 3Gs and I understand it requires the 4 to do that so we were about to upgrade to 4 when we read 5 was close .... I see a pattern here

That's one solution - but isn't the best for everyone. First, I don't like having to rely on TWO device batteries when I'm away. Second, with the iPad, you can turn 3G service on and off at will. Finally, if you do the tethering legally, it costs at least as much as just having 3G on the iPad - and probably lower performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbtinc View Post

Under the law, corporations ARE 'people' with most of the same rights as humans. As for RIM - the end is in site.

RIM still has a chance. They have tons of money in the bank and a loyal customer base. If they get off their butts and start creating something that people want to buy, they'd have a chance. Start by making a tablet that has its own 3G service instead of requiring tethering to a Blackberry phone.
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post #26 of 57
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Originally Posted by dbtinc View Post

Under the law, corporations ARE 'people' with most of the same rights as humans. As for RIM - the end is in site.

Corporations are people with better bankruptcy laws. That's why The Eternal Emperor is, in actuality, The Eternal Emperor Inc.
post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

RIM still has a chance. They have tons of money in the bank and a loyal customer base. If they get off their butts and start creating something that people want to buy, they'd have a chance.

The problem highlighted in bold. RIM has no idea what people want. The Co-CEOs have no idea how to even communicate what it is that RIM thinks people want. It's game over. Now we have to painfully watch them in their death throes over the next few years.
post #28 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by dprijadi View Post

all these news of BB lately make me wonder.. what is the real strength of RIM? the corporate messaging and its security? if those are taken from RIM then what advantage left for RIM?

I would say their strength is in the two phone market. What I mean is that for many people it makes sense to have a separate device for work, it can make sense for tax reasons, or to avoid having a complex monthly expenses bill, or it can make sense because your corporation doesn't support email over consumer phones, but that's only one of the reasons.

Take the UK as an example. If I travel on work around europe I'll run up huge roaming charges, if it's on my own phone I'll have to expense them, which is a huge pain. If my employer just pays my entire phone bill then it becomes a taxable benefit, which can end up costing them more than a blackberry.

A blackberry can make sense in the same way that a corporate amex card does.
post #29 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by d-range View Post

I'd be surprised if 3G tablets (iPads or otherwise) are selling faster than WiFi models, as I just don't see the point of carrying around something as big as an iPad all the time,



How does it follow that 3G implies carrying around an iPad all the time?

How about once in a while, like going to the park or a friend's house? The internal storage is so tiny on the iPad that its not really practical to store lots of stuff on it, and it would be nice to sit at poolside and stream a movie or surf the 'web or use the iPad for mapping in the car or entertaining the kids in the car on long trips.

Once WIFI is ubiquitous, 3g will be superfluous, but until then, given the tiny SSDs, 3G is very nice to have in many situations.
post #30 of 57
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Originally Posted by GotWake View Post

What a freakin' idiot!


Wow. Just Wow.

post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by d-range View Post

I'd be surprised if 3G tablets (iPads or otherwise) are selling faster than WiFi models, as I just don't see the point of carrying around something as big as an iPad all the time, I have a smartphone for that. My personal anecdotal evidence seems to be in line with that: I know about 10 people with iPads now, and none of them have a 3G model.

Try going on vacation and using your iPad... So far I have taken three trips where I couldn't use my iPad. I will definitely get the 3g when the next version comes out!
post #32 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

I would say their strength is in the two phone market. What I mean is that for many people it makes sense to have a separate device for work, it can make sense for tax reasons, or to avoid having a complex monthly expenses bill, or it can make sense because your corporation doesn't support email over consumer phones, but that's only one of the reasons.

Take the UK as an example. If I travel on work around europe I'll run up huge roaming charges, if it's on my own phone I'll have to expense them, which is a huge pain. If my employer just pays my entire phone bill then it becomes a taxable benefit, which can end up costing them more than a blackberry.

A blackberry can make sense in the same way that a corporate amex card does.

But if you take away the BB messaging/server part any smartphone can be a "corporate smartphone". I agree most people like the two-phone strategy particularly if they don't have to expense it.

However if the BB messaging/server advantage is somehow diminished that's it for BB in the corporate space. And that time is coming soon.
post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vadania View Post

Try going on vacation and using your iPad... So far I have taken three trips where I couldn't use my iPad. I will definitely get the 3g when the next version comes out!

In Canada I find it a rare occasion when there isn't any wifi... usually if I'm in a remote spot... but then there usually isn't any 3g reception either.

I've been in dumpy little motels in small towns, campgrounds, mainstreets of small towns and cities... all of which had wifi... and I would imagine that list will grow over time.

Where the hell do you vacation... maybe the availability is much less in the U.S... I thought it would be more.

... but then, of course, you might not be from NA.
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post #34 of 57
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Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

In Canada I find it a rare occasion when there isn't any wifi... usually if I'm in a remote spot... but then there usually isn't any 3g reception either.

I've been in dumpy little motels in small towns, campgrounds, mainstreets of small towns and cities... all of which had wifi... and I would imagine that list will grow over time.

Where the hell do you vacation... maybe the availability is much less in the U.S... I thought it would be more.

... but then, of course, you might not be from NA.

Just a few examples of places were I need access to my remote devices and WiFi isn't available:

- Airports. I average about 75 flight segments a year so I spend a lot of time in airports. Only about 1/3 of U.S. airports have free Wi-FI (and none of the major hubs I use). If I go to the Admirals' Club, there's free WiFi, but only one device. If my daughter is with me, she can't use the iPad on WiFi at the same time I'm online with my laptop.
- Hotels. Interestingly, it's the cheaper hotels which are often offering free WiFi these days. The nicer hotels are often $10 or more per day. Having a paid 3G plan would be convenient. Also, there are still a number of chains which use wired Ethernet in the rooms rather than WiFi.
- Customer sites. Many businesses do not allow third parties access to their networks.
- Rest areas along the Interstate highway system.

Those things account for a very large percentage of the time I need Internet access on my iPad. It is clear that "WiFi is everywhere" is just a pipe dream at this stage.
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post #35 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

In Canada I find it a rare occasion when there isn't any wifi...

Is there another Canada? I was there for about a week very recently, and WiFi availability was no better than in the USA. Of course every motel has WiFi, but that's useful only at night. There was no WiFi along the highways nor along city streets, not that I expected any.
post #36 of 57
(Consider I am an MacBook, iPad 2, Motorola DEFY and iPhone user.) I can testify to the fact that the PlayBook is superb in every respect, with one big 'but'. a) Display resolution and brightness. b) Speed and responsiveness. c) Usability - once you get used to the concept of dragging from the bezel. d) Graphic design of the apps and OS (nothing like the horrible Blackberry devices). Just check out the calculator! Lovely! e) Multitasking, that unlike iOS (and Android), is very slick and wel implemented. However, and this is where Steve is correct, if you are going to buy a 7" device, why not get a big droid with a 4.7" display - with the advantage, it fits in ALL your pockets? That is the issue. If the PlayBook was a dedicated eReader (IE, a colour Kindle) it would have a huge vertical market, but it has to compete with iPhone 5 (on the horizon) and the larger droids.

The PlayBook's competition is NOT the iPad, very different devices. It is the large screen phone.

END TRANSMISSION


Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Sprint Nextel announced on Friday that it has scrapped plans to sell a 4G WiMax version of Research in Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet after the device failed to generate sufficient interest.

The third-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. revealed that the cancellation was a "mutual decision" with RIM, Reuters reports. The two companies had announced in January that a 4G version of the PlayBook would arrive on Sprint this summer.

After rumors emerged last month that RIM was set to cease production of the Wi-Fi PlayBook, the company denied the report calling the rumors "pure fiction." It appears now that the true story is that the WiMax version of the PlayBook was the one getting the ax. Sprint will continue to sell the Wi-Fi PlayBook.

Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM has indicated that it will instead focus its efforts on a Long Term Evolution version of the tablet that should go into testing this fall. Verizon Wireless, which operates an LTE network, had said prior to the launch that it would sell the PlayBook, but the carrier is currently reconsidering the decision. AT&T declined to comment on whether it plans to sell an LTE PlayBook.

"Right now the majority of tablets are Wi-Fi only," Page Alves, Sprint's head of business services, said. "People use tablets in fixed locations."

The Wi-Fi version of the 7-inch PlayBook arrived in April to reviews that criticized the device as having been "rushed to market," noting the lack of native email and calendar functionality. The tablet's launch was disappointing, with most stores reportedly unable to sell through their initial stock of five units on the first day.



Charter Equity Research analyst Ed Snyder attributed the cancellation to RIM's inability to compete with Apple's iPad. "There's two groups with tablets: Apple and everybody else. RIM's in the second group, definitely," he said.

RIM has struggled to keep up with rapid changes to the mobile industry effected by Apple's iPhone and iPad. The beleaguered company announced last month that it will cut 2,000 jobs, or about 10.5 percent of its workforce.

The BlackBerry maker isn't the only one struggling in the smaller form factor tablet market. Dell announced earlier this week that it had killed off its Streak 5 hybrid tablet/smartphone. Apple CEO Steve Jobs predicted last October that tablets 7 inches and smaller would be "dead on arrival" and be abandoned this year as manufacturers realize that they are too small.
post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

That's one solution - but isn't the best for everyone. First, I don't like having to rely on TWO device batteries when I'm away. Second, with the iPad, you can turn 3G service on and off at will. Finally, if you do the tethering legally, it costs at least as much as just having 3G on the iPad - and probably lower performance.

Oh ... I missed the part about tethering costing in addition to the iPhone 4's monthly fees. We are grandfathered in unlimited with AT&T and had assumed it 'just worked'. Oh drat!
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post #38 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Just a few examples of places were I need access to my remote devices and WiFi isn't available:

- Airports. I average about 75 flight segments a year so I spend a lot of time in airports. Only about 1/3 of U.S. airports have free Wi-FI (and none of the major hubs I use). If I go to the Admirals' Club, there's free WiFi, but only one device. If my daughter is with me, she can't use the iPad on WiFi at the same time I'm online with my laptop.

It seems that all of Canada's major airports do offer wifi. Strange that so few offer it in the U.S... being that it has become a real necessity. It's like not finding a pay phone in the 50s.
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post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

But if you take away the BB messaging/server part any smartphone can be a "corporate smartphone". I agree most people like the two-phone strategy particularly if they don't have to expense it.

However if the BB messaging/server advantage is somehow diminished that's it for BB in the corporate space. And that time is coming soon.

Yes, but then you have to consider the pricing and the ergonomics. Blackberries are small, light and have full keyboards which makes them excellent devices for carrying round along with the main phone. Blackberries are also much cheaper than a high end phone from HTC or Samsung, never mind Apple.

Obviously BB messaging and BES are really big advantages too, and a device that doesn't support BES such as the Playbook or the Colt (according to rumours at least), is a very poor proposition - but those aren't the only advantages. As other firms duplicate them with their own messaging systems and their own push email either via 3rd party Apps or OS, Blackberry will still have the advantage that the hardware that they produce is perfectly suited to a two phone user.
post #40 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by brisance View Post

This article disagrees. My own anecdotal experience in my part of the world affirms it; supply of 3G models are seriously constrained, up till today. In fact a friend was looking for a 64GB 3G on Wednesday and had to call up favors to get one.

I'm not trying to be mean, but, did you read the article? It said the 3G version was the most popular model. That's true. But it also noted that particular model only consisted of 30% of sales.

30% of 100% is not the majority. It just means that one model is the best seller, but overall the other models combined outsell it. It's probably true that wifi only tablets outsell the others, partly because tablets aren't phones. They're mobile, but people still tend to use them in fixed locations. And those who don't are the ones willing to pay more for a 3G model plus a monthly wireless carrier fee.
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