The announcement by Apple and Verizon Wireless that Verizon Wireless stores will begin selling the iPad on Oct. 28 is the first overt step by the wireless company into the Apple camp, but it's certain not to be the last.
In a joint announcement, both companies said that Verizon Wireless stores will begin selling a bundle consisting of the Apple iPad and the Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 Mobile Hotspot. The price for this bundle is approximately $130 more than the iPad by itself. It's delivered with a contract-free data plan, which starts at $20 per month for 1 gigabyte.
The normal price for a 1GB plan from Verizon Wireless is $50 for a month of data prepaid. There is no 1GB postpaid contract shown on Verizon Wireless' rate page. However, there is a 250MB monthly plan for $39.99, or about twice the special iPad data plan price. The retail purchase price of the MiFi is normally $269.99 without a contract.
So the Verizon Wireless iPad bundle is a great deal initially, and users who plan to keep the service for a few months will ultimately save even more money. Plus, they'll have the benefit of a 3G service with broader reach and better reliability than they get with the 3G iPad that uses the heavily challenged AT&T network.
I'm told that Verizon Wireless will offer a distinctive protective sleeve for the iPad, although it's not clear whether that's included with the bundle. Verizon Wireless will also offer stand-alone WiFi iPads without the bundle. At this point, there is no mention of a 3G (or 4G) iPad using Verizon's service. All that's being offered are WiFi iPads and the MiFi wireless 3G hot spot.
As you might imagine, nothing in the Verizon Wireless press release mentions a possible future iPad using the Verizon network. But it's easy to see that it's not rocket science to engineer a 3G or 4G radio to take the place of the existing AT&T 3G radio. But while it's not necessarily difficult to do this, getting a spot in the red-hot iPad production cycle may take a lot more doing. Right now iPads are selling like free beer at the World Series. One has to wonder how Apple can make enough to supply the 2,000 or so Verizon Wireless stores.