UPDATE 2-Verizon to sell Apple’s iPad

* Verizon selling iPad loosens Apple-AT&T relationship

* AT&T will also begin selling iPad; both start Oct. 28

* Verizon iPad move comes amid talk of Verizon iPhone

* Analysts see deeper Apple-Verizon relationship
(Recasts, updates shares)

By Gabriel Madway

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 14 (BestGrowthStock) – Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.) (AAPL.O: ) is
turning to Verizon Wireless to help sell the iPad in time for
the holidays, loosening its cozy ties with AT&T Inc (T.N: ).

The surprise move disrupts the relationship between Apple
and AT&T Inc, which carries the iPhone exclusively and was
initially tapped to provide the iPad’s mobile data plan when
the tablet computer launched last spring.

The iPad will be available in both Verizon and AT&T stores
on Oct. 28, the companies said separately on Thursday. The
iPads will be priced the same by both carriers, but Verizon’s
will come bundled with a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot in order to work
on its network.

Verizon Wireless has roughly 2,000 stores — fewer than
AT&T’s 2,200.

Shares of Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N: ) closed up 0.7
percent, while AT&T shares rose 0.1 percent. Apple climbed 0.7
percent.

BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk said the decision to sell the
iPad through Verizon was likely an easy one. Apple was
initially forced to limit the number of distribution channels
as it ramped up iPad production, but no longer.

“They want to sell as much product as possible, and this
clearly sells more product,” he said. “If my perception is that
Verizon’s network is better than AT&T’s, then by all means, why
wouldn’t Apple sell it there?”

Investors are already anticipating that Apple will launch
an iPhone that is compatible with Verizon’s network sometime
early next year. Analysts said the decision to sell the iPad
through Verizon — the No. 1 U.S. carrier — only served to
reaffirm that view.

“Clearly you’re priming the channel for additional
products,” said Cowen and Co analyst Matthew Hoffman.

He said selling the iPad will allow Verizon’s retail sales
force to become familiar with the tablet’s software — and also
prepare them to sell the iPhone. The two devices share a common
operating system.

JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said in a research note:
“We think the move nicely sets the stage for a wider and deeper
relationship with Verizon.”

NEW CHANNELS

Verizon Wireless’s roughly 2,000 stores will sell three
Wi-Fi-only models of the iPad starting Oct. 28, because the
iPad’s mobile technology is not compatible with Verizon’s
network.

Verizon will provide a mobile high-speed connection by
bundling the iPad with its portable hotspot, with prices
ranging from $629 for the 16-gigabyte (GB) iPad to $829 for the
64 GB model.

In six months on the market, the iPad has eaten into PC
sales and spurred a slew of copycat devices.

Apple sold more than 3 million iPads in the June quarter,
and might outpace that in the September quarter. Analysts
expect the company to sell more than 20 million next year.

Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone
(VOD.L: ), will offer an iPad monthly data plan for $20 a month,
which would allow 1 GB of data usage.

The iPad already runs on AT&T’s 3G network, and the
carrier’s retail stores will offer models that include Wi-Fi
and 3G and also start at $629, running up to $829.

AT&T offers a 250-megabyte plan for $14.99 a month, and a 2
GB plan for $25.

The iPad is available at Apple stores and big box retailers
like Best Buy (BBY.N: ) and Target (TGT.N: ), and will be arriving
at Wal-Mart (WMT.N: ) on Friday .
(Reporting by Gabriel Madway and Ritsuko Ando. Editing by
Robert MacMillan, Matthew Lewis, Gary Hill)

UPDATE 2-Verizon to sell Apple’s iPad