Leap jumps into tablet market with Wi-Fi-only Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Cricket carrier Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) is getting into the tablet market after all. The carrier said it will launch a Wi-Fi-enabled Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The launch comes three months after Leap backed away from plans to sell a Wi-Fi-only ViewSonic Android tablet with a 7-inch screen.

Leap Cricket Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 wifi

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Flat-rate provider Leap said it will launch the Galaxy Tab 10.1 Dec. 16 for $499.99. Leap will bundle the tablet with its Crosswave EV-DO/Wi-Fi hotspot and a month of Cricket broadband service for $594.99. The Huawei-made Crosswave allows up to four Wi-Fi-enabled devices to connect to Leap's mobile broadband network, and the company charges $45 per month for 2.5 GB, $55 for 5 GB and $65 for 7.5 GB for the service.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs the Honeycomb 3.1 version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform and sports an HD screen with 1280x800 resolution, a 1 GHz dual-core application processor, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera.

When it said in September that it was dropping plans to sell the ViewSonic tablet, Leap explained that that it wanted to focus its efforts on its Muve Music service and its growing lineup of smartphones. However, Leap did not rule out selling tablets in the future. 

Rival flat-rate carrier MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) said in October that it had no immediate plans to sell tablets to its customers, but it might add the devices to its product portfolio in the future. In an interview with FierceWireless at the company's Dallas-based headquarters, Tony Lau, staff vice president of handset product management, said that before MetroPCS will carry tablets, they have to "make sense for the company and our customers." Lau added that he had been approached by many manufacturers to carry their tablets but said the company didn't see any value in offering Wi-Fi-only tablets, which don't use the cellular network. And since MetroPCS doesn't have a 3G CDMA network, the company is content to wait until LTE-equipped tablets become more prevalent.

Leap's decision to go with a Wi-Fi-only tablet may make the most sense right now, since customers are increasingly favoring that connectivity model for tablets, according to a recent NPD Group survey.

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