While the rumor mill about Apple iPhone coming to Verizon Wireless has kicked into high gear again recently, Apple and Verizon made a surprise announcement on Thursday when they revealed that they had reached a deal for Verizon Wireless stores will begin selling the iPad on October 28.
Apple COO Tim Cook said, "We're thrilled to be working with Verizon Wireless to get iPad into the hands of even more customers this holiday season. 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."
Verizon COO John Stratton said, "This is the perfect pairing for holiday travels. iPad together with the nation's largest and most reliable 3G data network allows customers to easily connect on the go wherever they are."
However, don't mistake this for an iPad with Verizon's CDMA 3G chips embedded in it. No, it's actually the iPad Wi-Fi, which all U.S. Verizon Wireless stores (over 2,000 locations) will be selling in bundles with a Verizon MiFi 2200 Mobile Hotspot. The three configurations will be:
- iPad 16 GB + MiFi = $630
- iPad 32 GB + MiFi = $730
- iPad 64 GB + MiFi = $830
This retail pricing may look familiar. It's the same as the iPad 3G models that Apple sells with embedded broadband chips and discounted data plans on AT&T.
That means that you'll pay quite a bit more for the Verizon 3G service ($60/month) than for either the AT&T discount plans for the iPad ($15/mo for 250MB or $25/mo for 2 GB). Of course, you're also getting a Verizon device that you can use to connect your laptop, smartphone, and other devices via Wi-Fi. And, you get access to Verizon's much more widespread 3G network.
But, not to be left out, Verizon will also offer a special access plan to iPad customers for $20/mo for 1 GB of data. And, the company will sell the iPad at standard retail price without the bundled MiFi.
While this is not as significant of an announcement as a Verizon 3G (or even better, 4G) iPad would have been, it shows that Verizon and Apple are looking for ways to work together, and so it very well could be the first step toward bringing other Apple products to Verizon's network.
The other important thing to note here is that this is another sign of Apple's ubiquitous retail strategy with the iPad, which was originally only available at Apple Stores and Best Buy (in limited quantities). Apple has recently expanded iPad retail sales to Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, and now Verizon Wireless. On Thursday, Apple also announced that AT&T Stores will begin selling the iPad and October 28 as well.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.