I had a fun stop at the big Verizon store near me (how often can one say that?) and uncovered some interesting information about the MiFi that will launch officially on May 17 (this Sunday). I stopped to get the answer to two specific questions, even though I felt I probably knew the answers to them both.
My first question was if they anticipated having stock, and lots of it, for the launch on Sunday.
I didn’t really expect the salesperson to know the answer, but she responded that she believed they already had stock in the store. She went on to tell me that I could go ahead and buy one today if that was the case. That really surprised me, given the product has not launched yet. She checked with two other people (all three folks were familiar with the MiFi), and they both were pretty certain the stock was in and that yes, she could sell me one.
The purpose of my trip to the store was not to buy a MiFi yet. I’m still evaluating the product using the one Verizon sent me, so I declined purchasing one today and went to my second question: Would I qualify for upgrade pricing given my current 3G data plan using the AirCard? No, it turns out I don’t qualify for an upgrade until next year, so I would have to pay the full retail price of $269 for the MiFi. I would not have to renew my two-year contract, so at least for the big bucks my contract would still run out next year. Now I know what will be involved when I’m ready to buy one of these little 3G routers.
I was glad to see the salespeople already pushing the HP Mini 1000 they are also going to start selling May 17. They had a working demo unit on the sales floor and were pushing them to customers looking for a connected solution. They are obviously taking this whole netbook thing quite seriously. I should add that the sales folks I spoke to were excited to see a real working MiFi that I brought with me. They had not actually seen one work.
Those of you who can’t wait to get a MiFi of your very own may find it worth a trip to your local Verizon store based on my experience. Maybe you can nab one ahead of the other road warriors.