Verizon stores to start selling Apple iPad

Verizon iPhone? Not yet anyway, but Apple's iPad is coming soon to a Verizon Wireless store near you.
Eager Verizon Wireless customers who prefer its network over AT&T lust after a Verizon iPhone. No word from Apple and Verizon on that, but on Thursday the companies did agree to start selling Apple's iPad tablet computer at Verizon stores on Oct. 28.
The alliance means "an improved relationship" between Apple and Verizon, which had blasted the iPhone aggressively in ads for competing Droid smartphones, says analyst Charles Golvin of Forrester Research. "It points to an iPhone on the Verizon network, and that point is nearer than I would have guessed a few months ago."
Verizon will sell the version of the iPad that connects to Wi-Fi hot spots, starting at $499.
Verizon, however, won't sell the 3G version, which can connect to a cellular data network. Instead, the Wi-Fi versions will come with the option of bundling with a MiFi gadget for about $130. MiFi, a battery-powered device about the size of a pad of Post-it Notes, connects to Verizon's 3G network and relays the data to the iPad via Wi-Fi.
Data plans will start at $20 a month for 1 gigabyte and range to $80 for 10 GB.
The iPad is also sold by several retail chains, including Best Buy and Target. AT&T said separately Thursday that it also will begin selling the iPad in its stores on Oct. 28. The carrier's data plans for the iPad start at $15 a month for 250 megabytes.
AT&T is Apple's exclusive U.S. carrier for the iPhone. It is also the only U.S. carrier that's compatible with the 3G version of the iPad.
Van Baker, an analyst at researcher Gartner, says that having the iPad in Verizon stores is going to make life a little tougher for Verizon clerks, who have had to endure endless questions about iPhone availability on Verizon since the iPhone was launched in 2007.
"They've been living with this for a long time, but now it will only increase," he says.
Once the iPhone does eventually join the Verizon network, he thinks smartphones based on Google's Android operating system will take a big hit.
"Android is the only real alternative to the iPhone and has been selling because of that," he says. "So when the iPhone and Android are back-to-back, the iPhone will make a serious dent in Android sales."
Apple, which reports earnings Monday, has been on a tear of late.
On Wednesday, its stock crossed the $300 price barrier for the first time. On Thursday, it continued to rise, closing at $302.31 in regular trading (up $2.17) and rising an additional $2.40 in after-hours trading.
Contributing: Edward C. Baig, Associated Press

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