SoftBank plans for new iPad

SoftBank has just published their new deals for iPhone owners wanting to buy one of the newer iPads.

The mechanics of the plan are the same as for the iPad 2 campaign last year, you get a full rebate on the 16GB model’s price, but that applies only on the data plan charge. So if you use less than the 100MB free allotment of 3G/4G data, you will still have to pay at least the iPad’s price (split over 24 months).

Now the big differences with the iPad 2 campaign we had last year:

  • The iPad 2 3G model used to be offered by SoftBank for the same price of the WiFi only model at Apple. This is not the case anymore. You will pay a ¥10,960 to ¥10,800 premium for the 4G model over the simple WiFi model.
  • The access to SoftBank WiFi hotspots which was included for free before is now charged at ¥490 a month.

This makes this campaign plan much much less interesting than its predecessor.

3G or 4G speeds?

Additionally, the page adds an enigmatic note next to all mentions of 4G

日本国内ではSoftBank 3Gエリアのみで、ご利用いただけます。

Inside Japan, can only be used in SoftBank’s 3G area.

I suspect this is a shrouded way of saying that the iPad sold currently will only work with SoftBank’s 3G network, corroborating other sources around the web that it is incompatible with 4G LTE network bands used outside the US.

iPad 3G and Pocket WiFi alternatives in Japan

So the pricing for the iPad in Japan are out. It seems even devices sold at the Apple Stores will be SIM-locked to Softbank, breaking many hopes of seeing DoCoMo come into the picture and shaking things up a little.

This has definitely not changed my thoughts on the device, it would very much piss me off to pay twice for 2 iPhone and iPad data plans.

This morning, my buddy @kuriburi who is more enthusiastic than I am, called me from the line at the Softbank shop to discuss the situation. Interestingly enough, people were fleeing in droves after receiving the pamphlet describing the full pricing… We entertained the thought that it might be more interesting to buy a WiFi version and get a Pocket WiFi device from data plan specialist eMobile.

@kuriburi left the Softbank line and we started gathering data from the web:

And after crunching numbers here are the results, first for the iPad 64GB version:

And for the iPad 32GB version:

It still seems the Softbank’s default option with integrated 3G is very aggressively priced compared to the competition. But if you can limit yourself to less than 300MB of 3G data per month, you can save up to ¥9.000 on the 32GB iPad over the 2 years contract period. Not much for sure, but some people might be interested…

Note: we have not taken into account the eMobile Super Light data plan because a 3MB/month data plan will not let you do anything but access email (and then without pictures) which does not count as a full usage of the device.

Note 2: here’s a link to the spreadsheet, if you see anything wrong with the data please notify me in the comments.

My thoughts on the iPad…

…because everyone has their own. They could be resumed to: I want! I want! I want! I want!

It’s shiny, it’s thin, it looks good… Like all my favorite Apple stuff. I don’t even care if it has lousy WiFi — I live in a 50m² apartment with only 2 rooms separated by wooden walls, I am never more than 5m away from my Time Capsule.

But will I get one? I’m not so sure. In the current set of things, probably not. This is why:

  1. As I said earlier, my home is small — albeit nice and cosy — as most people in Tokyo who are not on expatriate expense accounts. My main computer is a MacBook Pro which sits at all time on the arm rest of my sofa: there is no table/desk to put it.
    So buying an iPad would mean relegating the MacBook Pro to a closet until I need it for higher level tasks — such as dumping photos into Aperture or writing code for home projects… Putting a ¥200.000 laptop in a closet feels wrong, but maybe I could live with it.

This is a coffee table, not a desk…

  1. I spend 3h of every weekday commuting to and back from work. I could really see myself enjoying movies, TV shows, my feed reader and internet/email on an iPad much more than on my iPhone as I do now. However, there is no way in hell I would ever pay another ¥4000 or so to Softbank for an unlimited 3G connection in addition to the one tied to my iPhone. You can only bleed your customers so much…

So unless the coming weeks see an announcement (I’m thinking iPhone 4.0 tonight) by Apple or Softbank of either tethering your iPhone to your iPad or an extra iPad 3G SIM at ¥500 for iPhone owners, I don’t think I will buy the iPad.