Verizon Wireless, AT&T to start selling the iPad (Ben Patterson)

Heard the rumors about Verizon Wireless getting its own iPhone early next year? Well, the Verizon iPhone may not be official quite yet, but the carrier just announced that it’ll start selling the iPad in its retail stores this month. Not to be outdone, AT&T says it will also begin to sell the iPad at its brick-and-mortar locations.

Verizon says it’ll be selling just the Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad, along with a bundled MiFi — a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that’s about the size of a small stack of credit cards.

A 16GB iPad-and-MiFi bundle from Verizon will sell for $629 starting Oct. 28 — the same price as the 3G-enabled iPad that comes with AT&T prepaid data service. Meanwhile, the 32GB iPad/MiFi combo will sell for $729 (again, same as the 32GB 3G iPad), and the 64GB iPad will go for $829 with the MiFi.

Of course, there hasn’t been anything stopping users from using the Wi-Fi-enabled iPad with Verizon’s version of the MiFi, but Verizon is offering a no-commitment, 1GB data plan for $20 a month with its iPad/MiFi bundles, compared with the $60, 5GB-a-month and the $40, 250MB-a-month plans for the standalone MiFi (which Verizon is giving away for anyone who signs a two-year contract).

For its part, AT&T will also start selling the iPad in its stores Oct. 28 — both the Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi-plus-3G versions, at the usual prices (starting at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad and $629 for the 3G version). Also per usual are AT&T’s prepaid data plans for the 3G iPad: $15 a month for 250MB of data, or $25 for 2GB a month.

Now, practically speaking, the main news here is that starting later this month, you’ll be able to walk into Verizon and AT&T stores to pick up an iPad — but then again, the iPad’s been available at Best Buy and Target as well, with Walmart and even Sam’s Club set to start selling the red-hot tablet in the coming weeks.

(And in case you’re wondering, using the Wi-Fi iPad with the MiFi is a pretty neat solution. I use my iPad with Sprint’s version of the MiFi, which will share Sprint’s 3G data with up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including the iPad. The MiFi only gives you about four hours of Wi-Fi on a charge, compared with about nine hours of battery life on the 3G-embedded iPad, but the iPad won’t share its 3G signal like the portable MiFi hotspot will.)

Strategically, though, Verizon’s announcement that it’ll start selling the iPad is striking. Even as Verizon’s been leading the charge with Android-powered phones like the Motorola Droid X and the Samsung Fascinate, there’s been increasing talk that Verizon will — at long last — get the iPhone, possibly as soon as early next year. (At least, that’s what the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times seem to think.)

Up until now, though, any kind of Apple/Verizon alliance has just been talk. Now that the two have joined forces — however tentatively — on the iPad, it’s starting to seem like less of a stretch that the biggest of the big four U.S. carriers may soon have an iPhone to sell.

Again, though, there’s still no official word on a Verizon iPhone, and there probably won’t be until … well, early next year (although there is an Apple event about Mac OS X slated for next week, so you never know). Stay tuned.

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One Response to "Verizon Wireless, AT&T to start selling the iPad (Ben Patterson)"

  1. James says:

    with ‘we leave it to you to decide’.

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