Apple and Verizon are pouring jet fuel onto the crackling rumors about an upcoming Verizon iPhone.
The companies today announced that Verizon will sell Apple’s iPad in its network of retail stores starting Oct. 28.
But Verizon’s not handling the 3G wireless capability built into upper-end iPads. That service is still provided by AT&T, which also has the apparently dwindling exclusive U.S. rights to carry the iPhone.
Verizon instead will sell the iPad in bundles with its MiFi wireless hotspot device. They’ll be priced from $630 to $830. Verizon’s also offering an iPad data plan for the MiFi that costs $20 per month for 1 gigabyte of data, $35 for 3 gigs and $50 for 5 gigs, plus $10 per gigabyte overage fees. Verizon will also sell WiFi-only iPads.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Verizon Wireless to get iPad into the hands of even more customers this holiday season,” Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in the release. “iPad allows users to connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before, and together with Verizon Wireless we’re offering an easy way to stay connected wherever you go.”
Simultaneously, AT&T announced that it will begin carrying the iPad in its stores on Oct. 28 as well. Cook’s apparently not quite as thrilled by that deal, though. His comment in the AT&T release:
“We look forward to expanding the reach of iPad allowing even more customers to experience the magic of iPad for themselves. As we approach the holiday season, we are very happy that customers will now be able to buy iPad Wi-Fi + 3G at AT&T stores.”
Apple’s been making lots of deals lately to extend the reach of its tablet device, which will face intense competition this holiday season and in 2011 from new tablets running Google’s Android software and Windows devices. Apple recently made deals to sell the iPad in Target and Wal-Mart stores, although apparently it won’t be discounted in them.
Verizon’s not just another retail outlet because of the intense speculation and anonymously sourced stories coming out about Apple working to develop a Verizon version of the iPhone in early 2011, ending the exclusive deal AT&T had since the phone’s debut in 2007.
Verizon and AT&T will also soon be selling an Android-based tablet made by Samsung.
The tablets may draw more customers into their stores this holiday season, although the iPad is on its way to becoming as prevalent on store shelves as the iPod.
At the very least, Verizon’s probably thrilled to have a way to sell its MiFi units for $130 (that’s about how much more the iPad costs when bundled with a MiFi unit).
Verizon gives the puck-sized MiFi units away to people who sign up for two-year data plans, and the device is facing lots of competition from similar mobile hotspots available on faster networks such as those operated by Sprint/Clearwire and T-Mobile.