In the lastest sign of increasingly close ties between the two companies, Apple and Verizon have teamed up to make the iPad available on Verizon's nationwide wireless network.
Verizon will begin selling the iPad directly to customers on October 28, according to a note on the carrier's Web site. Verizon is offering the Wi-Fi only, non-3G version of the device in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB editions, at Apple's suggested retail prices of $499, $599, and $699, respectively.
The carrier also is offering a bundle that includes the Novatel Mi-Fi 2200 router, which will allow users to tap Verizon's 3G wireless network through their Wi-Fi enabled iPads. The bundles are priced at $629, $729, and $829 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions of iPad.
Data plans are priced at $20 per month for 1GB, $35 for 3GB, and $50 for 5GB. The plans are on a month-to-month basis with no termination fees.
Until now, AT&T has had exclusive carrier rights to the iPad and iPhone. But, stinging from complaints about poor reception on the AT&T network, Apple appears ready to embrace Verizon as an alternative carrier. In addition to the iPad deal, it's expected that Verizon will offer the iPhone 4 starting next year.
Apple also is going beyond traditional gadget purveyors like Best Buy in an effort to market its products to a wider audience. The company recently struck deals with Wal-Mart and Target under which the two mass merchandisers are now offering the iPad in their department stores.
Adding outlets like Wal-Mart and Target to its list of authorized iPad sellers helps Apple broaden the device's appeal beyond the tech aficionados who've accounted for the bulk of early sales. In turn, the department stores benefit by stocking an item that's sure to draw additional foot traffic during the crucial holiday shopping season.
The iPad has become one of the hottest selling gadgets in tech industry history since Apple introduced it on April 3rd. Apple sold 300,000 of the devices the first day they were on sale, and more than 2 million units in the first 80 days of availability.
The iPad's popularity is starting to eat away at personal computer sales. Research group NPD recently released a survey that found 13% of iPad buyers would have purchased a PC had the iPad not been available. The iPad and Google Android-powered tablets are expected to be the hottest selling products of the upcoming holiday season.