By Stacy Cowley
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Verizon Wireless will begin selling Apple’s iPad at its 2,000 retail stores nationwide on Oct. 28, the companies announced Thursday.
The move ends AT&T’s exclusive grip as the wireless carrier for Apple’s wildly popular tablet, and potentially sets the stage for a broader partnership between Apple and Verizon. The two are widely rumored to be preparing to bring Apple’s iPhone to Verizon’s network in early 2011.
Verizon Wireless will offer three iPad bundles, all featuring an iPad Wi-Fi model and a seperate Verizon mobile hotspot device. The retail prices range from $630 for a 16 GB iPad to $830 for the 64 GB model.
Those prices match the cost of Apple’s WiFi + 3G iPads, which come with built-in 3G capabilities running over AT&T’s network. Stand-alone, Wi-Fi only iPads — which Verizon says it will also sell — begin at $500.
Customers could already run their Wi-Fi iPads over non-AT&T networks using hotspot external devices, like the one Verizon is selling as part of its iPad bundles. But the Verizon partnership marks the first time Apple has linked up to sell its devices with a wireless partner other than AT&T.
Verizon’s smartphone data plans offer unlimited data use, but the company isn’t being so generous with its iPad data cap: A monthly plan offering up to 1 GB of data will cost an additional $20. That compares to $15 on AT&T for a 250 MB data plan, or $25 for a 2 GB plan.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Verizon Wireless to get iPad into the hands of even more customers this holiday season,” Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook said in a prepared statement.