Verizon Starts Selling the iPad, but That Doesn't Mean iPhones Are Next

Verizon (VZ) will start selling the iPad on October 28. The twist is that it will be selling a wi-fi and Verizon hotspot device bundle, which means customers will be buying the same old iPad. Contrary to reports, Apple (APPL) hasn't made a CDMA-based iPad -- i.e., one that works on any network but AT&T's (T). It's a promising move for both companies, but actually adds very little to the likelihood of a Verizon iPhone.

The structure mirrors the AT&T-based 3G options:

  • iPad 16GB + Verizon MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, $629.99
  • iPad 32GB + Verizon MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, $729.99
  • iPad 64GB + Verizon MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot, $829.99
The difference here (aside from, strangely, a slight $.99 price increase) is that customers are buying a separate mobile hotspot device instead of the internal AT&T 3G option. It is smart, slick packaging, and offers some benefits:
  • More than one wi-fi user: Like all Wi-Fi hotspots, the Verizon MiFi allows multiple users to get online. A group of Wi-Fi only iPad users can hop online using one MiFi unit, unlike the AT&T 3G option that restricts it to one particular iPad.
  • Simplified pricing: AT&T offers two monthly data plans, 250 MB ($14.99) and 2 GB ($25.00), while Verizon offers one, 1 GB ($20). It doesn't force the consumer to guess how much data might be used.
  • Discount on MiFi: The Verizon MiFi usually runs $269.99, so the iPad bundle cuts the price by about half. It's a good deal for a customer already interested in a mobile hotspot device.
The Apple/Verizon partnership is nothing more than a promising start, but critics have had a hard time not getting giddy at today's news. For instance, take this wonderfully phrased headline at Gizmodo: iPad Coming to Verizon on October 28. It could, of course, just as easily say, iPad Coming to T-Mobile, had Apple negotiated a hotspot device packaging deal with that carrier. It has nothing to do with the innards and, to be frank, is pretty misleading. A customer right now could purchase a T-Mobile branded device or, for chuckles, use a Verizon Motorola (MOTO) Droid phone to create a hotspot and get the iPad online.

It's nice to see Verizon and Apple working together, but as far as we know the AT&T (ATT) exclusivity remains and no further evidence of a Verizon iPhone exists. Anything beyond that is wishful thinking.

Photo courtesy of jfingas // CC 2.0