Apple's iPad will appear in Verizon Wireless stores starting Oct. 28, the same day it goes on sale in archrival AT&T's retail locations. This marks yet another set of sales channels for the bestselling tablet PC, which will also debut at Walmart Oct. 15.
While AT&T has enjoyed a lock on both the iPad and iPhone in the United States, the appearance of a Verizon iPad suggests that the long-rumored Verizon iPhone could indeed be imminent. Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have suggested in recent days that the Verizon iPhone will appear in early 2011.
Although the iPad has enjoyed strong sales since its April release, Apple faces a number of upcoming competitors in the tablet space, including Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Research In Motion's PlayBook.
Verizon stores will offer the WiFi-only iPad bundled with its Verizon MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, which creates a mobile-connectivity cloud for up to five WiFi-enabled devices. The 16GB iPad + MiFi (mobile WiFi) will retail for $629.99; the 32GB for $729.99; and the 64GB for $829.99. On top of that, Verizon will charge iPad users $20 per month for up to 1GB of data.
Those who want the iPad without Verizon's MiFi can apparently purchase the device on a standalone basis, presumably for the same price at which it is offered by Apple and its various retail partners.
"We're thrilled to be working with Verizon Wireless to get iPad into the hands of even more customers this holiday season," Apple COO Tim Cook wrote in an Oct. 14 statement.
Meanwhile, AT&T will begin selling the three 3G-enabled versions of the iPad, with the 16GB version retailing for $629; the 32GB version for $729; and the 64GB for $829. AT&T prices the iPad's domestic data plan at $14.99 per month for 250MB and $25 per month for 2GB, with unlimited access to the carrier's domestic WiFi hotspots.
In addition to Walmart, Target and Best Buy are offering the iPad in their stores. Analyst firms such as UBS Investment Research have predicted that tens of millions of iPads will be sold in 2011, providing a strong incentive for retailers of all persuasions to carry the device.
"People are willing to disproportionately spend for these devices because they are becoming so important to their lives," Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy, is quoted as saying in a Sept. 14 Wall Street Journal interview. "We are really positioning the company to be the place where people can come and see the best of the connected world."
Sales of Apple iPads are outpacing those of both iPhones and DVD players, according to one recent analyst note, putting tablets on track to become the country's fourth-largest consumer category. "The iPad did not seem destined to become a runaway product success straight out of the box," Bernstein Research analyst Colin McGranahan wrote earlier in October, according to CNBC. "By any account, the iPad is a runaway success of unprecedented proportion."