The third generation of the watershed iPad has just been announced, to much fanfare. The device boasts many of the anticipated features, such as an improved five-megapixel camera, HD display and a beefed-up processor, which will be a boon to tablet gamers.
The other feature which is being widely heralded in the press is 4G LTE connectivity. While this is of course a positive development, consumers looking for a true 4G experience will likely be disappointed, at least for a while, in the vast majority of countries in the region. That is because unless you happen to live in Japan, 4G LTE networks are running on different bands for next-generation mobile connectivity.
A sampling of the region shows the following bands in use:
Australia: Telstra - 1800-MHz
South Korea: Korea Telecom - 1800-MHz
SK Telecom, LG U+ - 800-MHz
Singapore: SingTel, M1 - 1800-MHz
Hong Kong: CSL - 2.6-GHz
While of course it makes sense for Apple to concentrate on 700-MHz/2100-MHz to cater to its North American home turf, most consumers are unlikely to understand that their 4G-enabled device will not carry a 4G signal for now in Asia [or Europe according to the Wall Street Journal].
While this is an important distinction for the iPad, it is also likely to be a major source of confusion for the impending iPhone 5. The fact remains that 700-MHz is still largely used for broadcasting in several countries, while the 2100-MHz band is needed for 3G, and many carriers will tell you that there isn't even enough of that to go around.
Given the profile of APAC operators using 1800-MHz and the European ones using 2.6-GHz, Apple should strongly consider including these versions in their next release, and their competitors should take heed.
Marc Einstein is industry manager at Frost & Sullivan. For more information, visit www.frost.com/