Out of nowhere, Verizon says it’ll start selling iPads

Verizon has officially announced that it will offer iPads in stores for the holiday season, a deal no one saw coming because everyone was too busy talking about a Verizon iPhone.

But this announcement still raises some questions. According to a CNN report on the announcement, Verizon will merely only sell the existing iPad models. They are incapable of running on Verizon’s 3G network, even if customers buy a 3G unit at a Verizon store. However, Verizon will be offering a 3G “Mi-Fi” for the iPad, which lets users tap into a virtual hotspot, masking as a Wi-Fi connection, for a monthly fee. That requires the external device, though, and has nothing to do with the inner workings of the iPad. Nothing is changing under the hood.

Regardless, this all but verifies that Verizon will be getting its own version of the iPhone soon. Many predict that will happen in January.

Details confirmed from today’s announcement, which came jointly from Verizon and Apple, include a release date of October 28. That’s when the iPad will be available in Verizon Wireless retail stores.

There will be no subsidies for customers who sign up for 3G service so Verizon likely won’t be pressing for people to sign a long-term contract. In fact, Verizon will even sell the iPad models that only have Wi-Fi connectivity and no 3G capabilities.

For those who want to get a Verizon package, the mobile carrier will offer monthly plans of 1 GB of data for $20 or 2 GB for $25.

This announcement comes amidst a flurry of news this week about iPad retail expansion. Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club are both set to stock the device beginning tomorrow, bringing the footprint of Apple’s tablet computer to thousands of stores across the country.

The iPad will be available at all Verizon Wireless stores on October 28.