iPad could spark mobile net price war

THE APPLE iPad has sparked a bidding war for internet users that could force down the price of mobile downloads in Australia, telecommunications experts warned yesterday.

Telstra and Optus revealed generous, pay-as-you-go internet plans for the Apple iPad this week that cut the price of mobile internet use by more than 90 per cent.

The announcements came before Apple began accepting pre-orders for the delayed and highly anticipated tablet computer yesterday.

Telstra’s iPad plans cut the price of mobile internet by as much as 92 per cent, while Optus bettered Telstra’s bid by offering twice the data allowance for the same price.

Under the iPad plans, 2GB of mobile downloads will cost as little as $20.

By comparison, Telstra currently offers a 1GB mobile phone internet pack for $39.

Also, both companies are offering iPad internet access on pay-as-you-go plans rather than in a 12 or 24-month contract.

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The price cuts mean using an Apple iPad (priced from $629 to $1049) will be cheaper than using the smaller Apple iPhone.

Gartner research director Robin Simpson said he was surprised and mystified at the “aggressive pricing” from both leading phone carriers, but said it could be an attempt to be associated with Apple and the iPad.

“There’s no doubt it will be another iconic device like the iPhone, so maybe the thinking is that they’d like to have their brand associated with such a successful product and it’s simply a marketing exercise,” Mr Simpson said.

“Also, because it’s a data-only product, and has no voice component, this will represent getting new subscribers that they can report to their shareholders.”

While users will not be able to use the smaller Apple iPad SIM cards in other gadgets, Mr Simpson said the discounted internet plans could trickle down for use with other gadgets such as phones and laptop connections.

“It should put some downward pressure on other mobile internet plans and it certainly represents a good deal if you’re in the market for a mobile internet plan,” he said.

An Optus spokeswoman said the company would reveal more details of its iPad data plans this week, and Vodafone Hutchison spokeswoman Tess Mion said Vodafone and 3 Mobile would reveal iPad internet plans “soon”.

Apple has sold more than a million iPads since its April 3 US launch and will launch wi-fi and 3G models of the touchscreen tablet computer in Australia on May 28.


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