The New Verizon Store

I went by a local Verizon store this afternoon to meet with a manager to talk about the new iPad.

We couldn’t look at the demo machines because they were being played with by a group of kids. On the other side of the store, a Verizon employee using a MacBook kept pumping out good tunes. There was an excitement in the air not normally felt in retail.


Those new iPads on display.

This morning, Memphis had heavy rain and wind, but the store still sold out, the manager said. “We still had a line.”

After chatting a bit, the kids left, complaining about having to leave Angry Birds behind. The manager and I settled in in front of an LTE iPad.



The screen is amazing, but more on that in my review. The second thing I was impressed by was just how fast the LTE is.

Unlike some carriers, Verizon’s 4G is actual LTE, not a super-fast version of the existing “3G” CDMA network the carrier has been using for years. (The network the iPhone 4S uses on Verizon.) It was hard to believe I wasn’t using Wi-Fi. Webpages loaded instantly — even heavy ones like the CNN homepage.

“It’s great to use as a hotspot,” my friend in the red polo shirt said.

Turns out that those other carriers aren’t offering the ability yet, and Verizon is bundling it with the iPad data packages. Unlike the iPhone, there isn’t an additional fee to use “your data” on any of your devices. Coupled with the fact that the Verizon iPad is world-ready, I’m not sure why anyone would buy the AT&T model.

At this point, I started to get sad about ordering the Wi-Fi version of the new iPad.

As it turns out, Verizon can even help with that. “We have a trade-in program,” the manager said. For a limited time, the store will accept older iPads for store credit that can be used toward a new device or even a monthly bill.

As we decided to let the customers get to the iPad, we wandered around the store for a moment, and talked about the iPad’s competition.

“Android is all about options,” he said. I can’t disagree. In this store alone, there were Android phones with keyboards, and those without. There were skinned devices next to the Galaxy Nexus. The only thing most of them had in common was that LTE logo on the placard.

“It’s the future, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Yes, it is.”

“Do you think the future is bright for these devices?” I asked, waving toward the half dozen Android tablets on display.

“Yes, I do. People love options. Just because the iPad is the big player doesn’t mean there’s not room for these guys.”

There weren’t any kids playing with the assorted Android tablets, though.

Nor where there any customers looking at RIM or Microsoft devices. It’s clear to me that both companies have missed the boat on this generation of devices. After all, a Verizon store 4 years ago would have been packed to the gills with Blackberrys.

But not this new Verizon store. It’s Apple’s territory now, and that’s not a bad thing for either company.