Data tariffs for the Apple iPad - what are Vodafone afraid of?
So the Apple iPad is available to pre-order today, before the UK launch on 28 May - unlike the US launch, both the WiFi and 3G versions will be available at the same time. So if you're fancying a 3G fist of fun, how much will a data tariff cost you?
Three service providers are offering tariffs for the iPad - O2, Orange and Vodafone. None, however, are offering unlimited data plans - unlike AT&T in the US. Instead, these are the tariffs you'll have to choose between - as listed on the Apple website:
At first glance it doesn't look too unreasonable; 3GB for £15 per month is the going rate for mobile broadband. Orange are also offering data access at a rate of 5p per MB of usage each month, up to £40 per month. But what's going on with Vodafone? Not wanting to piss on their parade anymore than we have recently, but 250MB per month for a tenner? O2 are offering 1GB for the same price, and both Orange and O2 are offering 3GB per month for £15. Vodafone are also charging 5GB per month for £25, while Orange offer double that amount for the same price (as well as unlimited access through BT Openzone hotspots).
Vodafone seem to be actively discouraging customers from buying data tariffs for what will be a massively sought-after product, in the same week they announced their intention to scrap their Fair Use Policy for all mobile customers. They'll pick up some customers from the iPad through consumer loyalty, but they certainly aren't interested in adding to the data capacity they're already handling.
Considered in isolation, the data capping for all mobile customers looks like a hamfisted and unfair attempt at managing capacity for the future. But consider that news alongside this announcement. Presented with the birth of new platform that will undoubtedly drive growth and revenue in mobile data - and Vodafone have effectively shunned it. Why are Vodafone doing everything they can to put people off using data on their network?
UPDATE - seems there's been an update in Vodafone's pricing, possibly following the outcry from customers this morning; the 3GB for £25 tariff remains the same, while a tenner now buys you a 1GB which is at least in line with what O2 have to offer.