Yesterday, Apple (AAPL) began what could be the start of its mobile device relationship with Verizon (VZ) by announcing that iPads would start appearing in Verizon stores later this month.
Today, Verizon released an FAQ list for its iPad and MiFi bundles that answers a few questions and makes the price points of its plans a little clearer – while reaffirming that the only network an iPad can connect to directly is still AT&T (T). But it also shows that the Verizon iPad plan gives a little more data at a slight saving, as Mashable.com reported.
The big difference between the AT&T-enabled 3G iPad and the Verizon one is that Verizon is bundling in its MiFi 2200 wireless Internet hotspot. So when you purchase the bundle, you get the MiFi adapter and the iPad for the same price that iPads with 3G are available for right now. The MiFi adapter allows you to connect up to five wireless devices, giving all of them access to the Internet. This takes care of the fact that Verizon is only selling the Wi-Fi-enabled model of the iPad, not the 3G-enabled version, which also has been cleared up since the news broke yesterday.
When you walk into a Verizon store and purchase an iPad/MiFi bundle, you’ll have access to three different data plans. They’re all month-to-month and don’t include a termination fee.
The plans are:
$20 for 1Gb (with an additional $20 for each 1Gb over)
$35 for 3Gb (with an additional $10 for each 1Gb over)
$50 for 5Gb (with an additional $10 for each 1Gb over)
That’s pretty comparable to the AT&T plan, which will sell you 200Mb per month at $15, with another $15 for another 200Mb if you go over; or 2Gb at $25 a month, with $10 per Gb over that. The Verizon plan gets to be cheaper only if you start with the 5Gb plan, which is $5 cheaper than it would be if you reached 5Gb with overages while using AT&T. But at Verizon, you still have to carry around the MiFi hotspot card.
The promotional bundles at Verizon go for $629.99 for a 16Gb iPad with MiFi, $729.99 for the 32Gb, and $829.99 for the 64Gb.
Another note: iPads will also be available at AT&T retail stores starting October 28, adding it to the growing list of retailers dishing out iPads, such as Amazon and Target.
While cozying-up to Verizon seems to indicate Apple is getting ready to let at least iPad off the exclusivity leash, AT&T isn’t exactly out of the equation. According to AT&T’s website, iPads will also be available in its retail stores starting October 28. So you can get an iPad at Verizon, but it can only connect to Verizon using another device – the network for 3G iPads remains AT&T. This deal with Verizon feels more like a work-around to dodge exclusivity on Apple’s part in order to add more retailers to the growing number of iPad-sellers, just like Amazon and Target.
If you think about it that way, then the Verizon deal might not mean anything in terms of the future of Apple and AT&T. Sure, this opens the iPad to a new market, but full functionality remains available through AT&T only.