Thoughts About Voice, Media & Data Tariffs For The Apple Tablet

There are chances that Apple would be releasing a tablet computer without any contracts or subscriptions but, just as for unlocked iPhones, sales are likely to be significantly less than if it was subsidised with some sort of data and media bundle (voice optional).

The tablet has already been hailed as a potential platform for books, newspapers, movies and other content and it would be disappointing if Apple doesn't come up with a Spotify-like solution (based on Lala's technology) to accompany the launch of the Tablet in the next few hours.

Subscriptions would bring certainty to Apple plans and would convince media partners that they would be getting a regular and growing revenue stream.

And perhaps most importantly, it would give them more leeway and ways to differentiate themselves from each other while slashing distribution costs. This was part of our 2010 predictions for Apple back in December 2010.

Just like mobile phones with voice, data, text and MMS bundles or TV channels, expect the iPad, iSlate or TabletMac to have similar bundles as soon as Apple iSlate goes on sale.

Customers would be allowed to subscribe to one particular item, for example the New York Times, or buy a bundle across either across publishers (e.g. IDG) or themes (e.g. Parenting); and that's only a start.

Last year, we also suggested that Apple might go even further and offer packages such as access to 1000 audio streams, 50 movies & TV programmes, 10 magazines & newspapers, 10 podcasts & 10 apps/games per month for £30.

Then there's the holy grail, the equivalent of the Quad Play for Telcos, Apple being able to offer, via its partners, a complete spectrum of media services - Games, Movies, Voice, Data, Written Content and Audio - something that would be pretty unique indeed and would seal the destiny of the company as the most successful media and consumer electronics company ever.

Who would not be chuffed to pay £50 a month and get 800 minutes, unlimited texts, SMS and browsing as well as 3 games, 10 movies, a couple of apps, magazines, newspapers, podcasts and more?

Apple still had to iron out a few kinks, namely having to sort out the distribution sides of things as well as partnerships with a number of publishers to be ready for launch. The big names, from McGraw Hill to News Corp and the New York Times will be involved.

It also had to fine tune the amount of subsidy that the TabletMac will be receiving and at what price it will sell it to its network partners (unlike say the Kindle at launch, Apple already has an extensive network of mobile phone partners).

Our guess is that Apple will be selling the iSlate at a small loss or just enough to break even. Of course, we might be completely wrong but we sincerely believe that the Apple iPad will fail miserably without a subscription scheme and for that content partnership is key.