FOX News' Clayton Morris has dug up some more dirt on the Apple tablet. Morris cites sources at both AT&T and Verizon, each of which claims that the wireless companies are playing a role in bringing the tablet to market. Wait, why are wireless companies involved?Let's face facts: Connectivity Is King. If your device can't reach the Internet -- whether that be via Wi-Fi, WiMax, or cellular data -- it's not good for all that much. The only time I am without an Internet connection is when I'm on a plane that doesn't offer in-flight Wi-Fi. It is essential to my computing needs.
Since the Apple tablet is rumored to be a media monster, there has to be a way to deliver that media (e-books, digital magazines and newspapers) to the tablet. The best and most ubiquitous way will be via the existing cellular networks. That's why Apple is talking to AT&T and Verizon.
According to FOX News, Apple will probably offer two versions of the tablet -- one that works with Verizon's CDMA 3G network and one that works with AT&T's HSPA 3G network. Both versions will have Wi-Fi, and be able to switch from cellular to Wi-Fi Internet connections when they become available. FOX's sources didn't outright confirm the tablet, but they came pretty close.
FOX reports, "According to a source at Verizon, Apple has been in talks with 'the big red map' to offer the tablet on its robust CDMA network. Additionally Verizon is in talks with Apple to bring the iPhone to its network by late spring or early summer, but specifics haven't yet been finalized."
As far as AT&T's involvement, well, it is to be expected. AT&T has been Apple's lone network partner for the iPhone since it launched in 2007. There's no way AT&T wouldn't be involved.
What's most interesting is that FOX says the devices will likely be sold in a manner similar to the netbooks available from AT&T and Verizon. That means they'll come with some sort of wireless data plan. We can only hope that if this distribution model is chosen that there will be more flexibility in the data plans than is currently available. Unlimited data plans for netbooks at both AT&T and Verizon cost a hefty $60 per month. I'd also hope to see some sort of subsidization if people are going to be required to sign up for an Internet plan. I would also expect Apple to sell the tablet directly to consumers with no wireless data plan (probably at a higher price point).
FOX notes that Apple's discussions with AT&T and Verizon are on-going. So when Wednesday's big announcement finally arrives, final pricing and availability information probably won't be provided.
Ahead of Apple's anticipated, but unconfirmed announcement of a tablet PC, InformationWeek is tracking the sizzling market for slates, Webpads, e-readers, and related devices. See full coverage of the tablet PC wars here.