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At least Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) has guts. Either that, or CEO Ivan Seidenberg is just winter coat-in-July crazy. There's no other explanation for asking consumers to eat a two-year data contract for an underpowered, under-apped Android tab -- even one as good as Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 -- when Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) offers an unshackled iPad 2 for just $100 more.
On the one hand, I can't blame Verizon. Tabs aren't exactly cheap to carry, and Android tabs haven't been flying off the shelves in the same way the iPad has. Locking consumers into a two-year deal guarantees cash flow from an otherwise volatile product family.
But on the other hand, I can't see how Verizon sells even one shackled Android tab when the no-contract iPad sits on the next shelf. So what if one has 4G and the other doesn't? That only matters if said Android device is able to use apps that need 4G. Apps like, you know, Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) and Hulu Plus.
And don't talk to me about Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) Instant Video. I've used the service to stream episodes of The Walking Dead, and the experience was awful. YouTube does fine but also doesn't synchronize playback. Start a rented film on one device, and you'll have to start over if you switch to another device.
Some users are likely to look past these issues and buy on the promise of 4G. And if they do, Verizon will make a mint on data charges. The cheapest plan begins at $20 monthly for 1 gigabyte of service rising to $80 a month for 10 gigs of data, confirming earlier reports.
Yet on the whole, I expect this rollout to be about on par with the market's reaction to Motorola Mobility's (NYSE: MMI ) Xoom. In a word, tepid. Do you agree? Disagree? Kick off the discussion using the comments box below.
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