Sticker Shock! Verizon No Longer Subsidizes Tablets

With the introduction of Verizon Wireless‘ “Share Everything” family plans at the end of June, the company has stopped subsidizing tablets.

According to Verizon, tablets will now be on the same data sharing plan that other devices are on instead of being part of a separate data plan that required tablet purchasers to be locked into a year(s) long contract on a tablet that could be obsolete almost as soon as the ink was dry on the contract.

This new pricing schedule is in response to purchasers who were dissatisfied with their tablet purchases but had no recourse but the muddle on with their device that was embarrassingly wearing last year’s Android operating system.

Unlike cell phones, tablets are still in their infancy. As evolving technology causes new tablets to be lightyears ahead of their prior iterations, the cycle in which these new tablets are produced is shortening. The Galaxy Tab of today is already yesterday’s news using last month’s Android OS.

As of this writing, no other carrier has followed suit. Most major U.S. carriers do offer an option to purchase tablets at full retail, but the majority of consumers opt for the lesser upfront sticker-shock of subsidized pricing. While the subsidized pricing is enticing, I’ve always thought tablets should be sold like computers – as in ‘without subsidies and long-term contracts.’

What does this mean to authors? It means that new tablets which were once subject to deep discounts for a ball-and-chain contract through Verizon are now no longer subsidized; the cost of these tablets is now on par with the cost of the widely-known, heavily advertised, and genrerally trusted Apple iPad, which offers ebooks through their iBookstore which is accessed by the built-in iBooks app that comes on new iPads and on machines running Apple’s Lion OS-X 10.7 and above. Apple earlier this year launched the free iBooks Author app which allows writers to create interactive ebooks for iPad.

Will this pricing structure change what tablets consumers purchase? Only time will tell; if it does drive more sales to Apple’s iPad, it will likely have a secondary effect of pushing more independent authors towards the purchase of Apple products for content creation; the iBook Author app only works on Apple machines.  Apple has been a minor player ebook player – behind behemoth Amazon and also-an-ebook-seller Barnes and Noble.