AT&T plans to sell all three Apple iPad Wi-Fi + 3G models directly to business customers as part of an initiative to help companies increase productivity and flexibility. AT&T will offer attractive postpaid mobile broadband price plans for the iPad which will be available through AT&T business account representatives beginning Oct. 28. The new offer is available for customers whose AT&T wireless bills are paid for by their employer.
Gartner says worldwide tablet sales will reach 19.5 million units this year, driven by the success of the iPad. Tablet sales are projected to total 54.8 million units in 2011 and surpass 208 million units in 2014. Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, says tablets could cannibalize sales of consumer electronics devices such as e-readers, gaming devices and media players, with mini notebooks suffering the most.
• The FCC wants to create a new mobility fund using $100 million of the universal service funds voluntarily relinquished by Verizon Wireless and Sprint. Those funds had been helping support service in areas that, at least in some cases, were being served by other mobile carriers. Under the proposed mobility fund, a portion of these funds will instead be distributed on a one-time basis using a market-based mechanism to target consumers in areas without advanced mobile services
• Rhomobile has unveiled the latest iteration of its cross-platform smartphone app development framework, Rhodes 2.2. The framework already supported iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian and now features support for Bluetooth, calendar and Android cloud to device messaging. Rhodes 2.2 is free under the MIT license and is available now at :http://rhomobile.com/products/rhodes/.
• NASA has launched a new mobile social media effort with Gowalla. Gowalla users who virtually "check-in" at NASA-related venues and places of discovery on their smartphone have a chance to find four agency virtual items – moon rocks, a NASA patch, a spacesuit and a space shuttle – which can be swapped for other items, dropped in locations or kept in their vault. Gowalla users who collect three of the four items will receive a special pin in their Gowalla Passport. In addition, the first 100 people to collect three items will win the special edition NASA+Gowalla Map: Search for the Moon Rocks by JESS3, a creative agency that specializes in data visualization. Gowalla is available on iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Palm and the iPad.
• Garmin International has announced chirp, a wireless beacon designed for geocaching. Chirp works with any wireless-enabled Garmin handheld device and stores hints, transmits multicache coordinates, counts visitors and confirms the cache is nearby. Chirp is available now for a suggested retail price of $22.99.