16 Comments

Summary:

AT&T’s first LTE tablet, the HTC Jetstream, sounds promising until you see the price of $699 with two-year contract. Yes, the slate supports AT&T’s upcoming LTE network, but the carrier should have learned a lesson from its rival Verizon: This price with contract doesn’t sell tablets.

htc-jetstream

On Wednesday AT&T announced the HTC Jetstream, the company’s first Google Android tablet that will support the carrier’s upcoming LTE network. Similar to other tablets running Android 3.1, the Jetstream uses a 10.1-inch display, but with a twist: The capacitive touchscreen works with the HTC Scribe digital pen accessory for note-taking and drawing.

AT&T is supplementing the Jetstream with a new 3-GB data plan that costs $35 a month. Customers who agree to a two-year contract on the new plan will be able to purchase the Jetstream for $699, a subsidized price likely to put many consumers off.

To a gadget addict like myself, there’s much to like about the Jetstream on paper: a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, support for today’s HSPA+ mobile broadband networks as well as future LTE networks, a new version of HTC Sense software for improved usability and dual camera sensors, including an 8-megapixel rear camera, to name a few key specifications.

But AT&T seems to be betting on LTE as a key differentiator here and perhaps as justification for the relatively high subsidized price of the Jetstream. I think that’s a mistake. We’ll see when the tablet hits stores on September 4, at $699 with contract, reportedly $849 without.

AT&T needs only to look at the tablet pricing of its rivals Verizon and Motorola Xoom to get an idea of how well a tablet with a two-year contract will sell at $700 or more. Simply put: It won’t, at least not well. Granted, the Xoom certainly faced other issues outside the initially high price, because it was rushed to market with some key flaws: general instability, a limited number of tablet-optimized applications and a promised LTE hardware upgrade where “coming soon” meant six months later. In a sense, LTE support for the Jetstream is also “coming soon,” because AT&T hasn’t yet launched its LTE service. And when it does, it will only be in 5 markets to start and 10 more by year-end.

While I expect that HTC’s hardware and software won’t face the same problems as the Xoom, it still needs to answer a key question: What justifies the price premium over an Apple iPad 2, which can be had without a contract?

  1. I can’t see anybody buying this because of the subsidized price under a 2 year contract alone.

    Have they payed attention to what happened to the TouchPad?

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  2. Who ever decided on this price should be fired imediately. You could get an Ipad for less. The answer to beating the ipad is to price them cheap as possible. HP already revealed the answer by pricing their touchpad at silly prices and they flew off the shelves. Whats wrong with these people?

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    1. You could get an iPad for less; with lesser processor, cameras, data radios and screen resolution. I’ve kept my iPad around for a while, and when the 3rd generation (iPad) is released I will likely replace it. If I could have subsidized it, I would have. Look at the price of some of the high end smart phones and then look at the contract pricing. This seems right on target.

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  3. Me: unit DOA with this pricing.

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  4. Its way too expensive,I was waiting to see what else was going to be released before I purchased a tablet. Look like i’m up for the Asus transformer after all.

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  5. What’s sad is that everything else is a pretty big win. I used the 7-inch HTC Flyer with the Scribe pen for a few weeks, and *really* enjoyed it, but wished I had a larger screen to scribble on. The specs (processor, etc) are where they need to be, and IMO, Sense would be a welcome addition to Honeycomb, which I find rather bare and sparse.

    Even AT&T’s new plan is pretty good – $35/mo is MUCH more palatable than the ridiculous $60 they tried before.

    However, $700 with a 2-year contract (don’t they realize Tablet’s are outdated within 6 months these days?) is completely ridiculous.

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    1. Ricky, I couldn’t agree more. If the subsidized cost were $399 or so (I’d rather not have a contract TBH) then I could see some sales success.

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  6. Um…Are HTC and AT&T smoking some of “da god erb, mon”? People were saying that manufacturers would learn from the HP Touchpad price drop, and that future tablets might be more reasonably priced. Well…good luck with that.

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  7. So why am I buying this, as opposed to just an iPad which comes complete with thousands of apps?

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    1. You have to buy those apps. It doesn’t ‘come complete with’ them. Android has apps too last time I checked.

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      1. Yes, as I recalled you also had to buy software for Windows PCs. But the reason many chose the platform to begin with is the thousands of readily available choices of software in the market.

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      2. Another issue is that the PRIME APPS are only on the iPad/iPhone. No developer of high end hardware products even thinks of introducing an app for anything other than Apple iOS.

        It is easy to Bing the subject to verify this point using the Internet.

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  8. If AT&T is only going to discount a fraction, HTC should be smart and create a LTE tablet that can work on either AT&T or Verizon’s network and sell it outright at that price. Then the customer would have more options and a more open device.

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  9. the only thong is on att’s mind is to make money in any way possible

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  10. DANNY COLON LOPEZ Friday, September 2, 2011

    HTC Jetstream the best Tablet!!! sorry IPad!

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