Apple has announced that the iPad will be sold in AT&T and Verizon stores from Thursday 28th October. It’s not the long overdue relaxing of Apples policy on subsidised iPads with a contract commitment we’ve been hoping for but I believe its the next step in the road. Apple has been very cautious with its tablet rollout – initially keeping it under very close control, both in terms of price and resale channels – only allowing Apple stores, authorised partners or the Apple website to sell the iPad.

iPad Image

As demand was proven they gauged reaction and then announced the next set of improvements to the iPad OS – bringing it in-line with iPhone OS adding multi-tasking, Game Center and other features.

They are now expanding the sales channels and allowing the first US networks to sell the device directly. AT&T has long been the sole iPhone provider but the addition of Verizon selling the iPad gives strength to the rumours of a CDMA iPhone late 2010 or early 2011. Both offer the iPad at the current standard prices points. AT&T’s plans for iPad data are $14.99 a month for 250MB, and $25 a month for 2GB. Verizon bundles a free MiFi adapter with an iPad sale with up to 1GB of data for just $20 a month.

The UK networks will all want a piece of this action, they are currently scrapping over providing the best PAYG data options for the iPad. Once iOS4.2 is rolled out I don’t believe it will be long before we see a relaxing on the contract restrictions, with the networks able to offer subsidised iPads as sales of the full price version start to plateau. It may even coincide with the release of a rumoured smaller iPad model – something in the 7″ screen range.