AT&T, Verizon start selling Apple iPads

Verizon and AT&T Thursday began selling Apple iPads in their retail stores, making the tablet computer even easier to come by.

Apple has been broadening the distribution outlets for the iPad in recent weeks, with Walmart and Target among them.

Also read: 9 real iPad alternatives

Availability of the iPad at Verizon stores (and online, where the carrier urges visitors to “Unleash the iPad”) is the real attention getter given the seemingly endless speculation about Apple finally making an iPhone smartphone available via Verizon.

Verizon is offering 16GB, 32GB and 64GB varieties of the WiFi version of the iPad, ranging from $630 to $830, plus month-to-month data plans to start at $20. Verizon is selling iPads along with a MiFi hotspot since Verizon is not selling the 3G version of the iPad, which won’t work on its network. Verizon will also offer iPads without the MiFi bundle. (Our sister publication PC World offers a good breakdown of the pros and cons of Verizon’s pricing deals.)

Verizon will also offer other tablet computers, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab (as will AT&T).

AT&T is offering the iPad with WiFi plus 3G at its more than 2,200 stores  for a comparable price to the Verizon bundles (Apple’s devices don’t include a CDMA chip needed to run directly via Verizon’s network).

AT&T also announced recently that it would begin selling iPads today to business customers whose AT&T wireless bills are paid by their employers.

Apple said shipments of the iPad totaled 4.9 million in its fiscal Q4 that ended Sept. 25, topping the 3.27 million in the previous quarter (Apple started selling the tablet in April.). IPad sales helped fuel strong revenue and profits for Apple in Q4.

Gartner recently estimated that about 20 million tablets from Apple and others would be sold this year worldwide.

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