People have been thinking long and hard for well over a month now whether they'll buy the Wi-Fi version which is available this month, or wait for next month's 3G model. Which is why AT&T says they're not making you get a 3G contract.
Chief executive Randall Stephenson said at an investor conference yesterday that the iPad will mostly be a "Wi-Fi driven product. And that is why you see the pricing of the model to be one that is prepaid in nature." Of course, that's AT&T's explanation of why they're not forcing you into a two-year contract for 3G data. The actual reason could be way different. Like perhaps Apple told them it would be this way, and no other way.
Here's the full extent of his comments:
Stephenson: When you think of the iPad and how that correlates with pricing, the iPad — it is going to be interesting to see the customer reaction to the iPad. Our expectation is that it is — there's not going to be a lot of people out there looking for one more subscription revenue stream to put on our network, as a result of an iPad. We think it is going to be a largely Wi-Fi driven product. And that is why you see the pricing of the model to be one that is prepaid in nature.
We are going to be anxious to see what the customer response to this is and how customers use it. How much Wi-Fi versus wide area network, and what will have to happen with prices over time, I don't know. It is going to be an interesting one to watch. We think it will be mainly a Wi-Fi driven product.
Update: Post was edited to reflect the full context of Stephenson's comments. [Reuters]