Citing industry sources, Taiwan Economic News reports that HTC has high hopes for its debut tablet, the HTC Flyer. Announced at Mobile World Congress last month, the HTC Flyer is an Android 2.4-powered slate with a 7-inch touchscreen display, a 1.5GHz processor, 32GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel camera rear camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calling. Despite a tremendous amount of competition expected this year, HTC has reportedly placed an initial order with manufacturers for over 1 million units of its Flyer tablet. This seems like a massive first order for HTC, which is also expected to launch two more Android tablets in the first half or 2011 according to the report. Taiwan Economic News states that the 3G-enabled Flyer will retail for approximately $600 off contract, which would make it over $100 less expensive than the 32GB iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G model from Apple. More →
We’ve just heard that AT&T retail stores won’t be selling the beefiest iPad 2 model today. Apparently, AT&T stores have received 16GB and 32GB iPad 2 models in black and white, but the highest capacity version is noticeably absent. Perhaps this is due to a supply issue or just the fact that Apple and AT&T have forecast that the majority of consumers will purchase 16GB and 32GB iPads, but it’s a tad bit interesting. We have reached out to AT&T for comment and will update this post accordingly. As for Verizon Wireless stores, we recommend customers call ahead of time to check if their local store will be carrying the iPad 2 at all today. We’ve been told not all Verizon locations will have them in stock but they can all place orders on site. The Verizon Wireless locations that will carry the iPad 2 today should be receiving the 64GB model, we’ve been told.
UPDATE: We have confirmed AT&T stores do not have 64GB models for sale later today, and we have confirmed that Verizon stores that are selling the iPad 2 do have 64GB models. Additionally, our local Apple store does not have Verizon iPad 2 units for sale. Very interesting…
It’s the company’s first, and we’re guessing it won’t be the last. Apple is constructing a pop-up store in Austin, Texas to coincide with the launch of the iPad 2 and the ever-popular SXSW festival, which is taking place over the next week and a half. It’s being reported that Apple has rented out a 5,000 square foot, empty retail location that it will stock with Apple employees and merchandise for conference goers traveling outside of their normal stomping grounds. No word yet on whether VeriFone’s CEO will create a video demonstrating flaws with Apple’s iPod touch EasyPay system, however. More →
Apple, AT&T, Verizon Wireless confirm tomorrow’s 5PM retail launch of iPad 2; online sales at 1AM Pacific
Apple, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless have independently fired off press releases letting us know exactly how and when we can acquire yourself an iPad 2 tomorrow, March 11th. Starting at 5:00 p.m. local time, interested parties can head to an Apple, AT&T, or Verizon Wireless retail store to purchase the 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB tablet in white or black. Verizon will be offering four data plans for the iPad 2:
- 1GB per month – $20
- 3GB per month – $35
- 5GB per month – $50
- 10GB per month – $80
While AT&T will be offering just two in both the pre-paid and post-paid formats:
- Monthly statements: $14.99 for 250 MB or $25 for 2GB. Customers who exceed their monthly data allotment will be billed $14.99 for another 250MB on the $14.99 plan or $10 per 1 GB of overage on the 2 GB plan [AT&T is offering consumers who choose monthly statement billing one free month of service].
- Credit card billing: $14.99 for 250 MB or $25 for 2 GB. Customers who exceed their monthly data allotment may choose to purchase another 250 MB on the $14.99 plan or purchase an additional 2 GB for $25 on the 2 GB plan.
All models of the iPad 2 — Wi-Fi and 3G — will also be available at Apple retail stores and select Walmart, Best Buy, Sam’s Club and Target stores nationwide starting at 5:00 p.m. AT&T and Verizon stores will only carry GSM and CDMA iPads respectively. If you’re not inclined to hit up a retail outlet, but are still interested in the tablet, AT&T and Apple will begin selling the iPad 2 online at 1:00 a.m. Pacific Time (4:00 a.m. Eastern) on the 11th. There you have it, if you’re jones’ing to get yourself an iPad 2, start formulating your game plan. More →
Piper Jaffray analyst and Apple aficionado Gene Munster has weighed in with his iPad 2 launch prognostications. Munster is predicting that the tablet, which will be available nationwide this Friday, will see sales of 5.5 million units in its opening quarter. By comparison, the iPhone 4 sold roughly 8.4 million units during its opening quarter and the original iPad sold around 3.27 million units. “Generally, the length of the lines at Apple retail stores on launch day have been a helpful early indication of demand,” quips the analyst. “However, factors like online pre-orders, simultaneous international launches, weather, timing in the day and the day of the week can all impact a consumer’s willingness to go stand in line, but may not necessarily be indicative of immediate purchase intentions.” For these reasons, Munster believes that lines at retail locations selling the iPad 2 will not be as long as those from previous Apple device launches. Friday is the day, who’s buying an iPad Deuce? More →
In an attempt to combat what it is referring to as “merchant resistance,” payment solutions company Verifone has taken an unprecedented step with NFC (Near Field Communications) technology. The company will begin to include NFC in all new POS (point-of-sale) systems deployed to merchants. “The retail point of sale represents a point of convergence for smartphone-initiated payments, social networking and electronic couponing, but it won’t happen if retailers are expected, on faith, to absorb the costs of making it work,” said the Verifone’s CEO, Douglas G Bergeron. “We find ourselves at the epicenter of the mobile payments revolution and the key enabler of the integration of new payment methods with the world’s existing payment infrastructure.” Mr. Bergeron does caution that the mere presence of NFC in POS systems does not make a retailer ready to accept touch-less payment, rather it takes “deep software richness at the point-of-sale to interact with the smartphone and manage a services-based model.” The move is sure to have a positive affect on the future adoption rate of NFC, and we applaud Verifone for taking this giant step. More →
Though not confirmed on all counts, it looks like Apple’s iPad 2 will be available from several third-party retailers at launch. Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer, has already confirmed that it will carry Apple’s second-generation iOS tablet starting March 11th, as was expected. 9to5 Mac now reports that in addition to Best Buy, nationwide retail giants Walmart and Sam’s Club will both carry the iPad 2 at launch as well. Both chains already have iPad 2 SKU numbers showing in their respective inventory systems, the blog’s source claims. The report might help quell rumors of potential launch inventory shortages that have been swirling for the past month.
UPDATE: Walmart just made it official — and it will offer each model for $1 under MSRP. More →
Apple announces Joint Venture to retail employees; looks to service small businesses at Apple Stores
On schedule and as we exclusively reported, Apple announced its Joint Venture service this weekend to Apple Store employees. The new offering aims to bring small business customers into retail stores, providing more business-centric and personalized services. Users can enroll in Joint Venture for an annual fee of $499. What does that steep fee get you? The fee covers up to five users (additional users can be added for $99 per person per year) and provides priority service at Apple’s Genius Bars (skip the line), phone support from business-focused Geniuses, loaner machines for repairs taking over 24-hours, and access to customized workshops. The new service is set to roll out beginning March 2nd.
AT&T on Monday announced that it will soon begin selling Amazon’s popular 3G-enabled Kindle eBook reader in its retail locations. Starting March 6th, customers will be able to purchase the Kindle 3G eReader from AT&T stores across the country for $189. 3G service on AT&T’s nationwide network is still bundled with the purchase price of the device, so no additional service plan will be required. “Amazon has without question pioneered the eReader space with Kindle, and it’s exciting to not only connect this device through our network, but now offer it in our stores to readers around the country ,” said Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices for AT&T, in a statement. “As the first dedicated eReader offered in our stores, we are confident the Kindle will be an attractive addition to our in store connected devices lineup.” Amazon also charges $189 for the Kindle 3G on amazon.com, however customers who purchase the device online will not have to pay sales tax. AT&T’s full press release is after the break.
There has been quite a bit of noise recently about a quarterly, morning meeting for Apple retail employees scheduled for this Sunday, February 27th. Apple retail staffers have been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement — not a standard procedure for such meetings — sparking speculation about Macbook Pro, iPad, and other hardware-related unveilings. BGR has learned that the topic in question is a new, retail-based service being called Joint Venture. First rumored back in March of last year, Joint Venture is an extension of Apple’s current Genius Bar services aimed at small businesses and prosumers. Subscribers of the new service will be able to speak with a store-based Apple technician — lovingly referred to as Geniuses — over the phone for one-on-one consultation and troubleshooting, or they can request an on-site visit. Currently, Apple’s Geniuses are not allowed to provide support remotely via the phone or in-person outside of Apple’s retail locations. A source has confirmed that Apple will reveal these plans to retail employees this Sunday, explaining how to properly position, explain, and sell the new offering. Not quite as sexy as new hardware or software, but it’s something, right?
Just a friendly reminder to all those looking to pick up an iPhone from Verizon Wireless: the device officially hits store shelves today. Those coveting a CDMA iPhone can hit up Apple Stores, Best Buys, Walmarts, and, of course, Verizon Wireless retail locations with credit card in hand. Good luck and happy hunting.
U.S. wireless provider AT&T has partnered with FlipSwap — the self-proclaimed “global leader in consumer electronics buyback programs” — to offer its customers a new, trade-in program through all of its retail locations. Customers can exchange unwanted mobile devices for AT&T credits, which can be used to purchase or offset the the cost of products and services offered by the company. As the press release reads:
- Customers can visit any AT&T retail location to take advantage of the trade-in, available to AT&T customers purchasing a device through either new service activation or a device upgrade.
- Store representatives will facilitate the trade-in request in real-time and provide the customer with a value estimate.
- Representatives will also provide all the necessary FlipSwap instructions and forms – including detailed instructions on how to wipe the device clean of any personal information – as well as a prepaid USPS padded envelope and shipping label for the device; customers simply follow the instructions, package their phones and mail the envelope.
- Customers will receive an AT&T promotional card – good for use in any AT&T store or online at www.att.com – in the mail roughly two to four weeks after FlipSwap receives the device and verifies its condition.
The program will launch in all AT&T retail stores on February 13th. Hit the jump for the full press release. More →
In a written statement today, Best Buy announced that it would indeed be carrying the long-awaited Verizon iPhone on launch day, February 10th.
“The iPhone 4 is an important device for Best Buy and we are excited to help Apple and Verizon Wireless bring it to even more consumers,” said the president of Best Buy Mobile, Shawn Score. “Our customers have come to expect Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores to carry the best selection of mobile phones anywhere, and offering the iPhone 4 on Verizon’s network is our latest effort to deliver on that promise.”
What the mobile retailer will not be doing, however, is offering pre-orders of the device; that honor is solely reserved for Verizon Wireless. So… if you are going to be one of the yahoos looking to acquire a Verizon iPhone on February 10th: sharpen up those elbows and start mapping out the closest Verizon Wireless, Apple, and Best Buy retail locations. The full statement is after the break. More →