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Verizon emerges as the first carrier for Galaxy tab

by Phil Hornshaw

Looks like Verizon (VZ) will be the first wireless carrier for Samsung’s (005930.KS) Galaxy tablet, announcing the computer will be in its stores and on its network starting Nov. 11.

That’s hot on the heels of Verizon adding the Apple iPad, of which Galaxy is a chief competitor, to its stores but not its network. Verizon will start selling iPads bundled with the company’s mobile wireless hotspot MiFi devices starting next week.

It makes one wonder what, if any, indication this is about the rumored plan to bring iPhone (and presumably iPad) to the Verizon network next year.

On the one hand, Apple’s Steve Jobs has made no secret of what he thinks of the 7-inch tablet market – Galaxy is a 7-incher, while iPad has a 10-inch screen. Jobs doesn’t see Galaxy as competition, supposedly, because he says 7 inches isn’t a big enough screen to make the tablet a contender. He also doesn’t think Google’s Android operating system is ready for the tablet market.

So maybe Jobs really isn’t worried about Galaxy, and having the Samsung tablet on sale next to the iPad doesn’t bother him. The two tabs are similar but iPad has the edge on price and size: a contract-free Galaxy will run you $599, while the lowest price point for an iPad starts at $499 (although with the MiFi bundle, iPads in Verizon stores will start at about $630). The Galaxy has Android, which is a selling point for some customers, and it includes a front and back camera, while iPad only has one on the screen side.

Then again, maybe Verizon is hedging its bets as far as the iPad is concerned, seeing as it can offer 3G connectivity on the Galaxy, but can’t for the iPad. The MiFi bundle strategy for the iPad lets users connect to wireless Internet using Verizon’s device, but for an iPad with 3G connectivity, customers still have to go to AT&T (T). Meanwhile, Galaxy owners can get a Verizon plan for 1GB for $20 a month.

It’s more speculation about the possible Apple/Verizon relationship, and there really aren’t any answers. But it is interesting to think about whether the Galaxy development at Verizon is an indication of things to come in the tablet market. Lots of people are excited to get iOS devices on other carriers. Maybe if Galaxy takes a bite out of iPad, it’ll increase Apple’s speed in diversifying the availability of the device.