Why enterprise will choose iPad Pro over Microsoft’s Surface

Just two years ago, Apple chief executive Tim Cook took pot shots at the rise of 2-in-1 tablets, and claimed the iPad was a far better option for anyone seeking a tablet. Oh, how things change — Apple now has a similar product, the iPad Pro.
And perhaps surprisingly, it is the iPad Pro, not Microsoft’s Surface tablet, that will be popping up in cubicles everywhere this time next year — despite Apple’s history of ignoring the decidedly-unsexy-but-still-lucrative enterprise market.
The iPad Pro is much larger than its predecessor, and was designed to work with a new Smart Keyboard and a glorified stylus called Apple Pencil. It’s basically an SUV: not strong enough for some tasks, but packed full of useful features.

A look at the iPad Pro's Apple Keyboard attachment, which allows the tablet to double as a laptop.

A look at the iPad Pro’s Apple Keyboard attachment, which allows the tablet to double as a laptop.


The iPad Pro is a lot like Microsoft’s Surface product. Both feature displays that seem just a little too large to be convenient, both were designed with keyboard covers in mind, and both have gone to great lengths to convince people they should opt to spend between $49 and $99 on a stylus. There is one important difference, though: the iPad Pro is an iPad, and Surface products are not.
That might sound facetious, but it’s an important distinction. Apple isn’t trying to sell a new product to the enterprise customers it so obviously wants to attract with the iPad Pro. It’s trying to sell them an iPad (which many of those potential customers probably use outside of work) that was built with them in mind. Microsoft tried to establish something new; Apple is expanding a popular product — and that’s how it’s approaching enterprise.
Also, it doesn’t hurt that 70 percent of the smartphones and tablets used by enterprise workers bear Apple’s logo, according to a recent report by CompTIA . People are already using iPads for work, even though the device was designed as a vehicle for enjoying content instead of a workhorse machine. Apple’s decision to capitalize on that popularity with a new device should hardly come as a surprise.
It doesn’t hurt that analysts believe the iPad’s growth, which has slowed in recent years, will be bolstered by increasing popularity in the enterprise. Forrester Research said earlier this year that it expects business-owned tablets to represent 20 percent of the total segment by 2018; that’s a large increase over the 14 percent of the tablet market is owned by businesses this year.
All of which means that Apple products represent a large portion of a growing market segment — and that was when the company focused almost exclusively on the consumer market. If the iPad found a place in enterprise when its claim to fame was HBO Now, imagine how well it could do now that it comes with a dedicated keyboard accessory and what appears to be a rather capable stylus.
The iPad Pro is the latest example of Apple doing what it does best: waiting for its competitors to fizzle out in a market, designing a product that reinvigorates interest in the category, and then acting like those other products never even existed. The company even had a strange ally in creating that illusion: Microsoft executive Kirk Koenigsbauer, the corporate vice president of the Office division.
Koenigsbauer took the stage yesterday to show off how Microsoft’s Office productivity suite planned to support the new iPad Pro. He showed some interesting things, like PowerPoint turning doodles into presentation-worthy shapes, and expressed his employer’s excitement over Apple’s new tablet. That’s right — a Microsoft executive helped present a product that directly competes with Surface.  And since software is far more lucrative for Microsoft than hardware sales, I’m sure the company is extremely happy Apple is finally catering more toward workplaces with the iPad Pro.
Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils the company's new 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveils the company’s new 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

‘Apple tax’ vs. perceived value

Surface has just one advantage over the iPad Pro: its price. Buying a Surface Pro 3 with 128GB of storage, a Surface Pen, and the Surface Pro 3 Type Cover will cost at least $1,029 before tax. An equivalent iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard will cost at least $1,218. (There are cheaper options available, but these two are the most comparable, at least for our purposes.)
That’s the stereotypical “Apple Tax” that has allowed the company to make more money than its competitors. The iPad Pro will cost more, sure, but it also has access to the App Store, a bigger and better display, and other features that put it ahead of the Surface Pro 3. I suspect many people will be willing to pay extra for those features and the ability to keep everything inside Apple’s ecosystem.
There have already been jokes about Apple getting credit for something Microsoft released three years ago. (And they aren’t too far off the mark!) Apple basically just announced its take on the Microsoft Surface after it spent years pooh-poohing the idea of using a stylus or of using one device to fill various functions instead of buying an iPad, an iPhone, and a Mac for their separate roles.
Like I said, this is what Apple does best. It watches others fail, then it releases its own product and makes ungodly amounts of money on products that establish their categories in the public conscience. Before the iPhone there was BlackBerry. Before the iPad there were Microsoft tablets. Before the Apple Watch there was Pebble. And before the iPad Pro there was the Microsoft Surface. If the Pro follows the same historical pattern, it’ll probably be a knockout hit.

Apple and Its Partners Team to Redefine Business Computing

Will larger iPads and deeper business partnerships lead to a disruption in business computing?


Tablets are increasingly an enterprise tool rather than consumer plaything. Apple is responding to the consumer transition to larger ‘phablet’ smart phones — like the company’s own iPhone 6 and 6+ lines — by doubling down on enterprise use. To do so, Apple is making a big push into the business marketplace even while iPad sales have fallen.
BT-AD647_APPLEB_16U_20150812175705
Toward that end, we’re witnessing a great deal of noise and smoke, suggesting there’s fire and heat back there:

  • Apple may be rolling out a larger iPad (iPad Pro? or iPad Plus? 12.2 inches diagonal? 12.9 inches?), one intended to blunt the relative success of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3. But the price point of the iPad relative to the 12-inch MacBook — especially after factoring in the cost of a keyboard — means that something has to be rejiggered. One possibility: an Apple designed keyboard/cover for iPads as a standard option, to counter Surface 3. And this larger iPad is rumored to be rolling out in November.
  • While many have pointed at the interest in the iPad Mini as a counter argument to an iPad+, people also pooh-poohed the larger format iPhone 6 and 6+. However, that went on to record sales, confounding the naysayers. And if larger format phones are cannibalizing iPad sales, the answer might be larger iPads.
  • Some hypothesize that the iPad+ might be able to run OS X, which — again — pits the product directly against the Surface Pro 3, which runs Windows. There is little to support this rumor, except a patent application that seems to suggest that OS X could be used on tablets.
  • Apple has directed suppliers to start building larger-screen iPads in the second half of 2015, and the company  is considering adding USB 3.0 ports. iPads today lack USB, which is a liability, since most storage peripherals — like external hard drives, and USB drives — run through USB. Also, phones and many other devices are charged by USB. The company is also mulling ports for connection to keyboard and mouse peripherals,

But new hardware is only one piece of the puzzle. The biggest action is coming from the partnering side of Apple’s plans for the enterprise. Last year, Apple partnered with IBM to move the iPad into more niches in the business side through the IBM MobileFirst for iOS program (see Apple and IBM team up to go after the enterprise together, and IBM launches first wave of Apple iOS apps: MobileFirst).

Screenshot 2015-08-13 09.38.31

source: Apple


Now, in 2015, Apple is bringing a number of business application partners into what is being called — behind the scenes — the ‘mobility partner program’ or MPP.
The Wall Street Journal looked into how the program is working, and Apple is leveraging the customer experience advantages of physical Apple Stores to convert business users to iPads and iOS software:

Apple is inviting officials from accounting firm Xero Ltd. and other partners in the business-app program to train Apple business specialists. […]
Apple reviews its partners’ apps and offers detailed suggestions, down to which words should be shaded in gray, according to meeting participants. Thanks to the partnership, an Apple ally got the company on the phone with an iPad business customer that had never heard from an Apple representative. And Apple has played match maker by encouraging makers of complementary programs such as employee scheduling software and digital cash register systems to create interconnected apps. […]
The efforts are paying off with small business customers like Kelly Barker. In June, she popped into an Apple store in Dallas with a question about using a Mac laptop for her skin-care company. An Apple employee invited Mrs. Barker to a workshop where three software companies pitched a dozen small retailers on running their operations with Apple devices.
There, Apple representatives helped talk Mrs. Barker through replacing her clunky accounting system with apps that work on iPads and iPhones.
Mrs. Barker’s PREP Cosmetics LLC switched to accounting software from Xero, which participated in the workshop. She plans to buy digital-cash-register technology from Vend Ltd., another partner from the workshop.
Mrs. Barker was surprised by how the world’s most valuable company catered to a four-person business. “They really were genuinely interested in my business and in helping me grow,” she said.

This doesn’t sound like the Apple of a few years ago, but one working hard to build an interconnected ecosystem of software partners, and relying on the business smarts of companies like IBM to figure out the best ways to convert clients like Kelly Barker to switch to modern computing technologies.
Reversing a slide in iPad sales will require innovation and drive in both hardware and software sides of the equation. Like Apple, I’m betting on larger mobile devices and a tighter focus on business needs for the next few years.


This post was brought to you by IBM for MSPs and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s PivotPoint. Dedicated to providing valuable insight from industry thought leaders, PivotPoint offers expertise to help you develop, differentiate and scale your business.

Would Apple really stick a USB port on an iPad?

Yesterday’s Bloomberg report on big iPad delays seems to have gotten a few people in Apple’s supply chain talking. On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal and Digitimes both followed up with their own stories on the rumored “iPad Pro” with a 12.9-inch screen.

However, some of the details in the WSJ report are bewildering. For instance:

Apple is now considering adding USB ports and adopting so-called USB 3.0 technology, a much faster version that promises to transfer data up to 10 times as rapidly as current USB ports, one of the people said.

Later in the article:

The company has also been considering adding ports to connect to a keyboard and mouse, the people said.

If you follow Apple rumors, these details seem unlikely. First, a Microsoft Surface–style traditional USB port on a tablet would almost certainly compromise an iOS device’s thinness. Second, Apple has been moving away from mice — even on its desktops — for years, preferring trackpad gestures.

That’s why I believe the supply chain details in the WSJ need some translation. The “USB 3.0” technology mentioned could be referring to reversible USB Type C ports. Apple has been tipped to be considering the skinny next-gen connector as the primary port and charger for a future MacBook, and if that were to happen, I think it would make sense to bring Apple’s MagSafe replacement to the bigger iPad, which could have power needs closer to a desktop than a smartphone. The question then becomes whether the USB port replaces the Lightning connector, which is the existing charge and sync port for iOS devices.

USB Type C

The Wall Street Journal says the advantage USB 3.0 provides is faster wired data transfers, which doesn’t strike me as a particular weakness of the existing iPad. However, it also mentions new technology to speed up charging times, which would be welcome.

The keyboard and mouse details are equally confusing. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Apple introduced a keyboard case — many Android and Windows tablets already have first-party keyboard cases, and the success of iPad keyboard accessories shows there’s a market there. But an Apple mouse would require significant changes to iOS to adapt it to an older form of input, which seems unlikely. I think the mouse is more likely to be the iOS smart stylus that was previously rumored. But even then I think there’s a better chance it’s connected through Bluetooth than through a wire.

On Wednesday, Apple was said to have delayed production of the 12.9-inch iPad until September because of supply issues. What could be causing the shortage in displays? One guess is that the delays are due to new high-density screens with a resolution around 4K. However, supply chain rumormonger Digitimes says the reason is a new display technology, Oxide TFT LCD, which has the main advantage of being more power-efficient. Apple has been said to be looking into Oxide TFT LCD technology in the past.

It’s all a bit unclear what’s going on with the 12.9-inch iPad. The WSJ indicates that Apple could decide not go to through with some of these features, which is true of all Apple products. One thing is clear, though: You won’t be seeing the bigger iPad at next week’s Apple Watch event.

YouTube’s app just for kids on the way (updated)

There are lot of great professionally-made videos for kids on YouTube buried in an avalanche of decidedly inappropriate content. Soon, parents won’t have to filter the millions of videos themselves: On Monday, Google is launching a new free Android app aimed directly at kids, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thusrday.

The app will be called YouTube for Kids, according to Google, and you’ll be able to download it from the Google Play app store for Android phones and tablets on Monday. (Originally, Google was not expected to also release an iOS version at launch, but it did.)

YouTube Kids Screenshot

The free app has several family friendly features, including a simple and colorful design, parental controls and ways to set limits on screen time. But the most important part of the app will be its curated roster of kids shows, including videos from popular series such as Sesame Street and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Companies contributing content include Jim Henson TV, DreamWorks TV, Mother Goose Club, The Jim Henson Company, National Geographic, and Reading Rainbow. The mix of content appears to center be mostly shorter web videos as opposed to full episodes — LaVar Burton, host of Reading Rainbow, for instance, will be contributing an “exclusive original series” called uTech. Shows like Sesame Street offer full episodes on YouTube, but those usually require a subscription.

It’s unclear whether Google will be serving advertisements in the YouTube for Kids app, although the Wall Street Journal reports that Google is paying its content partners to to produce original shows. Google will have to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, so it will have to notify parents before collecting identifying information.

A YouTube for Kids product has been a long time coming. Netflix and Amazon Prime Streaming both offer kids sections — Amazon sells a kid-oriented subscription — and there are lots of third-party apps that have tried to fill the child-oriented gap left by YouTube. But the children’s video market is too important to be left to startups, so Google is doing it itself.

Update 2/23: Google launched YouTube for Kids, and in a bit of a surprise, there is an iOS version on the App Store in addition to an Android version on the Google Play app store. This post has been updated to reflect availability for Apple devices.

 

Report: 80% of all mobile data is consumed by just 10% of users

Cisco Systems this week offered some insight into just how much mobile data the world is consuming — 2.5 exabytes a month, to be exact – and now a new report from Amdocs sheds a little light on who among those billions of users is consuming the most. Amdocs found that just 10 percent of mobile users are consuming 80 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic.

[company]Amdocs[/company], a telecom equipment maker that specializes in billing and network operations, calls these folks the “Technorati,” and it’s easy to figure out who they are. They’re the consumers sporting not just advanced smartphones and tablets but often multiple connected devices.

Those numbers aren’t simply reflecting a split between wealthy and poor countries. Amdocs’ State of the RAN (industry shorthand for radio access network) reported on 25 million voice and data connections in major cities around the world, all with lots of smartphone usage, and found that power users are often using as much as 10 times more data than the average mobile subscriber. And since the average mobile data user consumed 100 percent more data between 2013 and 2014, Amdocs found, the data growth what for these Technorati is even more amplified.

Amdocs State of the RAN

Amdocs found not just a demographic split in data use, but also a geographic one: 20 percent of cell sites were generating 80 percent of all mobile data traffic. These areas tend to be the urban hot zones where people congregate, but those areas are also increasingly indoors. Amdocs discovered that 80 percent of all data funneled to mobile devices is being consumed indoors, and that means a large portion of it is hitting Wi-Fi, not cellular networks.

So going by Amdoc’s numbers, what we’re seeing is a very stratified network as mobile data takes over – much more stratified than when voice was the dominant mobile service. A handful of people are consuming the vast majority of all data and they’re doing it in very specific locations of the network.

Cisco VNI mobile data consumption

And Amdocs isn’t the only company that’s seeing these trends. Cisco’s Visual Networking Index focused on overall global carrier trends, not just major cities, but it found the top 10 percent of users consumed 65 percent of all traffic. Furthermore, by [company]Cisco[/company]’s calculations the highest 1 percent gobbled up 18 percent of all of the world’s mobile data, with each averaging 15.2 GBs per month. Apparently there are even more elite tiers within the world’s data elite.

T-Mobile offers customers with bad credit its top phone deals

On Sunday, T-Mobile is unveiling a program that will essentially let customers with bad credit scores to prove their worthiness to the carrier and thus qualify for financing deals that would put the newest and most expensive smartphones in their palms.

Today at [company]T-Mobile[/company], the latest and greatest smartphones aren’t available to customers. Technically anyone can buy a new iPhone 6+ or the newest Samsung Galaxy if they’re willing to pay the full cost of the device, but if you wanted to spread the cost of a $750 smartphone over two years then you need good credit — carriers call that “well qualified” — to qualify for T-Mo’s financing program.

Under the new program called Smartphone Equality, any customer on a voice prepaid or postpaid voice plan that maintains their service or pays their bill on time for 12 straight months will become eligible for all of T-Mobile’s smartphone financing deals. So even if you’re on the most basic feature phone plan, if you make 12 months worth of payments on time, you can immediately upgrade to, say, the iPhone 6+ for $0 down and monthly payments of $27.08 for two years. You can even use the program to finance a tablet.

The program is also retroactive, so if you’re already a T-Mobile customer with a year of on-time payments behind you, you’ll immediately be eligible for the program Sunday. In an interview, T-Mobile VP of customer loyalty Matt Staneff also pointed out that you don’t lose your Smartphone Equality status, so if you finance that iPhone 6 and are late on a payment two months later, T-Mobile won’t suddenly insist you pay the full cost of the device.

About 63 percent of American consumers do not have the highest credit score, which is generally the bar that T-Mobile and other carriers have applied to their most compelling offers, Staneff said, though he didn’t reveal what T-Mobile’s specific credit policies were. Smartphone Equality basically lets T-Mobile make its own internal judgments on a customer’s credit worthiness rather depend on outside reports, Staneff said.

“I wouldn’t call it a credit program,” Staneff said. “I’d say we’re building trust together with our customers.”

Though this program will qualify a lot of postpaid customers for financed smartphones they wouldn’t normally be eligible for, Staneff said he anticipates it will move a significant amount of prepaid customers into the postpaid category. While many customers prefer prepaid, he said, there are a lot who were forced into a prepaid plan because of bad credit or they refused a credit check. “This is a very simply to way to get them the product they want,” Staneff said.

As the retail landscape changes, payments hardware is scrambling

Three months ago, Apple Pay kicked off a new flurry of excitement about contactless payments. Now the retail industry is in a race to catch up, which is why in the last week we’ve seen a lot of new point-of-sale equipment debut, all geared to process these new types of transactions.

It’s not just that people want to pay for goods with their iPhones. They want to pay — and accept payment — from every manner device, whether its a Android phone or tablet a digital credit card or even a wearable gadget. Consequently that gray box with a numeric punch keypad and card swipe slot is giving way to a whole new generation of hardware.

[company]For instance, VeriFone[/company] has decided to make a kind universal point of sale system that will work with any kind of mobile device and mobile payments system.

e355 VeriFone PAYware terminal

Called the Mobile PAYware e355, the device has a built-in NFC reader and EMV chip reader, meaning it will accept contactless payments such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet or Softcard as well as new EMV smart chip cards, which will start replacing our old magnetic stripe cards this year. For good measure it also has a mag stripe reader so it can handle today’s credit cards as well as an optional barcode scanner that can read QR code-based payment systems like MCX CurrentC, a mobile wallet being promoted by big box retailers like Best Buy and Walmart.

The device attaches to a mobile phone or tablet either physically with USB or wirelessly with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi so it’s not locked down to, say, the iPad’s lightning dock, and VeriFone says it will be software upgradable in order to connect to any iOS, Android or even Windows device in the future. It’s a pretty smart move by VeriFone, which has traditionally built proprietary point of sale systems, but if retail commerce is moving to the mobile device – on both the consumer and retailer sides of the counter – than VeriFone has to move with it.

As retail commerce becomes more smartphone and tablet centric, we’re starting to see more mobile technology companies move into the retail space. I’m not just talking about Square and its numerous clones. Startups like Poynt and Clover (since acquired by First Data) are focusing their Silicon Valley’s design and programming skills on redesigning the cash register. And now mobile phone makers are getting in on the action as well.

[company]Samsung[/company] is taking a shot at payment terminals, announcing at the National Retail Federation Conference this week that it is partnering with VeriFone to make that company’s Android point-of-sale system with its Galaxy Tab Active slate at the center. [company]Panasonic[/company] is known for its ruggedized laptops and tablets, and now it’s making a version of its Toughpad for retailers. It boasts a few features you won’t find on your typical slate, such as a hardware PIN pad, EMV and mag stripe readers and a NFC radio.

Wirecard Smart Band

We’re even starting to see the reverse of this trend: financial companies innovating on hardware. This week, German payments and banking firm Wirecard announced a concept for a wristband that acts as a mobile wallet.

As I said earlier, [company]Apple[/company] Pay is driving a lot of this activity. Contactless payments are suddenly cool again, though Apple’s rising tide isn’t necessarily raising all ships. Google is seeing more activity on Wallet lately, but Softcard – the mobile carrier’s NFC payments platform – appears to be suffering. Last week it laid off 60 employees, which isn’t a good sign that business is booming.

What we’re seeing, though, is a big convergence of new technologies and policies in the normally staid retail payments market. Apple Pay is one thing, but the coming move away from standard magnetic credit cards in the U.S. to more secure EMV card transactions is necessitating a huge overhaul of current point-of-sale equipment in stores. Companies like Square are making credit card payments available to ever broader cross-section of businesses. And new concepts for universal payment devices like Coin, Plastc and LoopPay are getting a lot of attention.

The countertop hardware at stores is changing, as is the hardware — or plasticware — we’re using to make our purchases. We’re still going to see a lot of the familiar financial industry names when we make our purchases, but Silicon Valley and the mobile industry are rapidly injecting themselves into the retail commerce. Soon, we’ll be just as likely to see Samsung, Apple and Google at the checkout stand as we are VeriFone and Visa.

CES is finally over. Here’s everything you missed

We expected CES this year to be about connecting everything from watches to toothbrushes to virtual worlds. We did see a lot of connected, crazy gadgetry and more: the FCC’s Tom Wheeler hinted at his net neutrality decision and even Twitter won an Emmy to wrap up a long, weird week in Sin City.

Here’s a complete list of our coverage, broken down by topic, so you can get caught up on all the new tech to start the year:
TV and cord cutters
Wearables
Internet of Things
Phones and tablets
Computers
Connected Cars
3D printers, VR and a dose of science

TV and cord cutters

DISH President and CEO Joe Clayton makes his entrance playing a drum with kangaroo characters at a press event for DISH at the 2015 International CES on January 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

DISH President and CEO Joe Clayton makes his entrance playing a drum with kangaroo characters at a press event for DISH at the 2015 International CES on January 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Wearables

Smartwatches the Burg 12, left, the LG G Watch R, center, and the Moto 360 are arranged for a photograph during CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, 2015.

Smartwatches the Burg 12, left, the LG G Watch R, center, and the Moto 360 are arranged for a photograph during CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, 2015.

Internet of Things

Mother smart home solution glows on a shelf during CES on Jan. 6, 2015.

Mother smart home solution glows on a shelf during CES on Jan. 6, 2015.

Phones and tablets

A LG G Flex curved smartphone is displayed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada on  Jan. 8, 2015.

A LG G Flex curved smartphone is displayed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada on Jan. 8, 2015.

Computers

The Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) Pavillion Mini Desktop computer is displayed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Jan. 8, 2015.

The Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) Pavillion Mini Desktop computer is displayed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Jan. 8, 2015.

Connected cars

Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of Nvidia Corp., introduces the Drive CX Digital Cockpit Computer during a news conference ahead of CES on Jan. 4, 2015.

Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of Nvidia Corp., introduces the Drive CX Digital Cockpit Computer during a news conference ahead of CES on Jan. 4, 2015.

3D printers, VR and a dose of science

An attendee tries out a Samsung Gear VR headset during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Jan. 6, 2015.

An attendee tries out a Samsung Gear VR headset during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Jan. 6, 2015.

AT&T brings Wi-Fi iPads into the 4G fold with new cases

While cellular connected tablets have been around since the launch of the first iPad, many buyers opt for Wi-Fi-only slates for the simple reason of cost. 4G radios make tablet hardware more expensive, and connecting a slate to a mobile network comes with a monthly data bill.

But [company]AT&T[/company] is hoping that people who skipped LTE when they bought their iPads have now changed their minds. At the Consumer Electronics Show Tuesday, Ma Bell announced it will soon start selling smart cases that connect Wi-Fi-only iPads to 4G networks. Though AT&T didn’t reveal availability or pricing, it said it will first sell these new Modio cases for the iPad mini, mini 2 and mini 3, followed by versions for the iPad Air and iPad Air 2.

These sleeves won’t just contain radios. They have independent 4,600mAh battery backs, which AT&T says will support 10 hours of continuous surfing. They also come with embedded microSD card slots supporting up to 32GB of additional storage.

Of course, you’ll still be on the hook for data fees, but if you’re already an AT&T customer on a Mobile Share plan, you can add the case to your plan for $10 a month.

ces-2015-3