Apple, Verizon iPad Deal: Carrier to Sell Apple's Tablet

By Reuters

(Reuters) - Verizon Wireless will join rival carrier AT&T Inc in selling Apple Inc's iPad later this month as it moves closer to disrupting the exclusive relationship between the device maker and AT&T.

Apple's surprise announcement on Thursday comes weeks ahead of the holiday shopping season, with the company positioning the iPad touchscreen tablet as a must-have device.

There is speculation that Verizon, the No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier, will soon sell Apple's iPhone. AT&T has been the sole carrier for the phone in the United States.

Shares of Verizon Communications Inc rose less than 1 percent in midday trading. AT&T shares were unchanged, and Apple shares were up less than 1 percent.

"We think the move nicely sets the stage for a wider and deeper relationship with Verizon," JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said in a research note.

Verizon Wireless stores will sell three Wi-Fi models of the iPad starting October 28. It will provide a mobile high-speed connection by bundling the iPad with its portable hotspot, with prices ranging from $629 for the 16-gigabyte (GB) iPad to $829 for the 64 GB model.

In six months, the iPad has eaten into PC sales and spurred a slew of copycat devices.

Apple sold more than 3 million iPads in the June quarter, and might outpace that in the September quarter. Analysts expect the company to sell more than 20 million next year.

Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone, will offer an iPad monthly data plan for $20 a month, which would allow 1 GB of data usage.

The iPad runs on AT&T's 3G network, and the carrier's retail stores will sell the device starting October 28. It will offer models that include Wi-Fi and 3G which start at $629.

AT&T said it will offer a 250-megabyte plan for $14.99 a month, and a 2 GB plan for $25.

The iPad is available at Apple stores and big box retailers like Best Buy.

(Reporting by Gabriel Madway and Ritsuko Ando. Editing by Robert MacMillan) 

This article was originally published on 2010-10-14