US telecom titan Verizon Wireless will begin selling iPads this month in a sign that Apple is getting closer to ending its exclusive deal with AT&T regarding service for the firm's mobile gadgets.
Models of Apple's coveted tablet computers featuring Wi-Fi connections to the Internet, and not iPads with built-in broadband network capabilities, will be sold at Verizon shops nationwide starting October 28.
The same day, AT&T shops will begin selling the three iPad models featuring 3G connectivity along with Wi-Fi capabilities.
"We can't wait to showcase the amazing features of iPad Wi-Fi + 3G in our stores across the country," said AT&T president of emerging devices Glenn Lurie.
Verizon said it will offer "bundles" that pair iPads with Mobile Hotspot devices that link to the Internet using the carrier's 3G wireless network.
"This is the perfect pairing for holiday travels," said Verizon chief operating officer John Stratton, allowing iPad users to "easily connect on the go wherever they are."
The announcement came amid persistent reports that an iPhone version synched to the Verizon network is in the works.
Such a release would end an exclusive US partnership that AT&T has had with Apple since the first iPhone model was released in 2007.
It would also provide an option for people who love iPhones but loathe AT&T's network. Verizon claims to have the largest and most reliable telecom network in the United States.
"We look forward to expanding the reach of iPad, allowing even more customers to experience the magic of iPad for themselves," Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook said in a release.
US retail goliath Walmart will start selling iPads in hundreds of its stores and at its website on Friday.
The chain known for warehouse stores and discount pricing will be selling iPads for the same prices as Apple real-world and online shops.
The cheapest iPad costs 499 dollars while the top model is priced at 829 dollars.
US retail powerhouse Target and leading online shop Amazon.com began selling iPads earlier this month as stores move to attract shoppers with an Apple gadget expected to be a popular holiday gift purchase.
The touchscreen computers are also available through Best Buy consumer electronics stores.
Apple channeling iPads to US retail shops comes as production has begun to catch up with demand that sizzled in the months after the gadget launched in April.