updated 09:20 am EDT, Fri October 15, 2010
ATT selling 3G iPad direct to business buyers
AT&T expanded on its direct iPad sales today by promising that it would sell the iPad directly to all of its business customers. All three 3G capacities will be available direct to corporate accounts the same day as the public, on October 28. Companies also won't have to use prepaid service and should have access to regular subscription data plans, although the carrier didn't outline prices other than to say they would be "attractive."
The deal reflects a rapid adoption of iPads at work that has seen half the Fortune 100 either using or trialing the iPad. Apple hadn't originally tailored the iPad to business use but has seen uptake from companies that have seen it as much more suited to travel. Compared to a netbook or a Windows tablet, the design is much lighter and thinner. It frequently lasts for over 10 hours where its rivals are usually shorter-lived and sometimes last half as long.
The direct corporate deal is also a preemptive strike against the BlackBerry PlayBook that could cut out many of its potential clients before it ships sometime in winter 2011. RIM has characterized the PlayBook as a "professional-grade" tablet and is pushing its utility for reaching BlackBerry Enterprise Servers and its overall security, but many of its core clients are already trying iPads and in some cases have said its security is good enough for their needs. Early looks at the PlayBook have also criticized it for being a Wi-Fi only model at first that needs to tether to a BlackBerry smartphone to get 3G.