This is bizarre. Clearwire is positioning its iSpot 4G hotspot device towards owners of portable Apple products. The iSpot costs $100 regularly, though it’s on sale today for $29. There’s no two-year contract needed and service costs just $25 per month as long as you’re in a Clear 4G coverage area.
The press release says “The iSpot is CLEAR’s first 4G personal mobile hotspot made exclusively for Apple mobile products, including iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices.”
Under the FAQ section of the product page, one of the questions is: “What if I want to connect my laptop?” The answer:
“iSpot was built and optimized by CLEAR for Apple mobile devices (although Apple isn’t likely to tell you that) . If you want to experience the same kind of tummy-twisting speed on your laptops, cameras or other smartphones, there are some sweet Spot products that will make you very happy.”
So let’s check out one of those other “sweet Spot products.” The Spot 4G appears identical to the iSpot except that it’s black instead of white, requires a two-year contract, and service costs $40 per month.
You can kind of see what the company’s trying to do here. The thought is that portable devices and their mobile browsers don’t use as much bandwidth as full-fledged computers, so positioning a hotspot device at $25 per month specifically for portables versus a similar device at $40 for regular computers seems like it’d even out for the service provider.
However, Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi. And even the iSpot FAQ section states that the device puts out “802.11b/g standards for broad Wi-Fi device compatibility.” If Clearwire has gone to the lengths of somehow blocking all non-Apple, non-portable products from accessing the iSpot, it’s certainly a unique product.
UPDATE: The company has confirmed that the iSpot will only connect to the MAC addresses of mobile Apple products.
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