Clearwire quits iSpot, but retail push remains

Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) said it will stop selling its iSpot--a gadget that allows Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) mobile devices to access the company's mobile WiMAX network--but said the move does not reflect a plan to reduce its direct-to-consumer retail efforts.

Clearwire ispot discontinued"The iSpot will be discontinued once the current stock is depleted," wrote Clearwire representative Mike DiGioia in response to questions from FierceWireless. "This is a decision to not refresh the product at the end of its lifecycle and is not part of a retail pullback. Please note that we continue to sell the Clear Spot 4G and Clear Spot 4G+ which offer the same personal hot spot connectivity WiFi enabled devices, including iOS based products."

The action, first noted in Clearwire support forums and subsequently reported by Engadget, brings to a close the iSpot's brief life; Clearwire introduced the device just five months ago, in August. The iSpot allows users to share a connection--backhauled by WiMAX--among up to eight WiFi-enabled Apple mobile devices.

Interestingly, service for the gadget cost $25 per month plus taxes, sans contract, which stood as a much better deal than Clearwire's $40 per month unlimited WiMAX plan. The pricing was a clear stab at AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), the exclusive U.S. provider of cellular service for Apple's iPhone and iPad. For the iPad, AT&T offers no-contract plans at either 200 MB for $15 per month or 2 GB for $25 per month. AT&T offers similar, albeit postpaid, data pricing for the iPhone.

Earlier this month, the iSpot was reportedly hacked, thereby allowing users to connect any computer to the device, not just Apple products.

Clearwire has reportedly come under pressure from its wholesale partners, including Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), for engaging in a significant retail effort, a push that includes Clear-branded stores, devices and pricing. However, the company has slowed its retail expansion in new markets amid a funding crunch.

In other Clearwire news, the company announced wireless industry pioneer Craig McCaw will resign as chairman. Click here for the full story.

For more:
- see this Engadget post

Related Articles:
Clearwire adds Best Buy as 4G wholesale partner
Sprint iPod Touch case to bring 3G connectivity
Clearwire launches 4G hotspot for Apple's iPhone, iPad
Clearwire's 4G iSpot gets hacked