Apple Anoints Verizon with iPad, and Maybe iPhone

In the first official acknowledgment of a partnership between Verizon Wireless and Apple, the companies announced Thursday that the iPad will be available in Verizon stores, beginning Oct. 28.

Bundled with a Verizon mobile hot spot, the Wi-Fi-only iPad tablet computers will sell for the same price as the 3G-equipped iPad — $629 for the 16-gigabyte version, $729 for the 32GB, and $829 for the 64GB version. The 3G plus Wi-Fi version will be sold in AT&T stores at the same prices.

But Verizon’s data plan is $20 per month for one gigabyte, an option not available at AT&T, which offers a $15 plan for 250 megabytes and a $25 plan for two gigabytes. Verizon will also offer the iPads without a plan or the mobile hot spot for $499, $599 and $699.

End Of An Era

It’s Apple’s first break from its three-year exclusive relationship with AT&T, the U.S. carrier of the iPhone. It comes just days after The Wall Street Journal reported that a version of the fast-selling iPhone compatible with Verizon’s CDMA network has already been ordered from Taiwanese manufacturer Pegatron.

Neither Apple nor Verizon has confirmed or denied the reports.

“I’d say this is the first step in a rollout of the iPhone with Verizon,” said wireless analyst Gerry Purdy of MobilTrax. “Apple is likely still under an exclusive [agreement] with AT&T for the iPhone, but not the iPad. When the exclusive comes off — likely in early 2011 — then you’ll see the iPhone rollout. This gives Verizon some experience working on Apple products that will make the adoption and selling of the iPhone easier.”

Brian Marshall, a financial analyst who watches Apple, said last May that the iPhone would likely be available from Verizon in March 2011. On Thursday, citing Asian parts suppliers, he said Apple is “on track” to…

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