Updated with additional analyst comments
The hotly anticipated Apple Tablet -- or the Apple Newton II -- will feature a wireless chip made by Qualcomm. This discrete little fact would confirm that Apple has chosen Verizon (VZ - Get Report) as its telco partner, says Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar.
Apple is planning two versions of the Tablet, says Kumar. One would have Qualcomm's wireless chip and WiFi. The other would have only WiFi, similar to the distinction between the iPhone and iPod Touch."If Verizon was willing to offer a big subsidy, I can see Apple working with them on an exclusive basis initially," Kumar says.
If true, it validates what TheStreet first reported in July -- that Apple and Verizon are working together to sell the new Tablet. "This makes sense for Apple," says Nielsen Wireless analyst Roger Entner. "It behooves them to build a relationship with a company they haven't worked with yet," Enter said, referring to Verizon. Having a telco partner means the price of the Verizon Tablet will be less than a Tablet purchased directly from Apple. Analysts estimate that Verizon will subsidize about $200 of the Tablet's price and require a two-year data service plan of around $60 a month. Apple is expected to sell the Tablet for around $800 without a subsidy. Apple is expected to unveil the Tablet next week and make it available for sale in March, though the sale date might be delayed until June due to component supply shortages, Kaufman analyst Shaw Wu indicated in a note Tuesday. The Tablet will also include a docking station, according to Northeast Securities' Kumar. This could be a crucial feature for consumers who harbor an ongoing love affair with keyboards. For those unsatisfied with touchscreen typing, a dock would connect to a keyboard and mouse.