News broke yesterday that Wal-Mart will indeed be selling Apple’s iPhone, most likely by the end of December. The source of the information is employee training materials, and employees of the U.S.-based retail giant themselves. Wal-Mart is still keeping mum about the news, having made no official statement as of yet.
Early speculation held that the 4GB iPhone would make a return, at a new, $99 price point, designed to attract frugal customers in increasingly uncertain economic times. Today’s reports, supported by a number of sources and documents, maintain that a $99 iPhone is unlikely, and that Wal-Mart will instead offer a $2 discount, selling the 8GB model for $197, including contract discount.
Analyst Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest Securities told Reuters that Apple, while unlikely to cut a deal that would affect its profit margins, is probably seeking distribution through Wal-Mart in order to access different market demographics. UBS analyst Maynard Um, on the other hand, thinks a Wal-Mart deal alone will not be enough to broaden the iPhone’s reach, and suggests it should instead be only a first step to even more distribution deals with large retailers.
Details remain unclear, and conflicting reports from various sources indicate that nothing is confirmed, besides the iPhone’s imminent arrival. The arrival date, for instance, is cited by Bloomberg as December 28, but by CNN Money as possibly sometime before Christmas. Likewise pricing and storage space options, with Boy Genius Reports still maintaining that the $99 4GB model is a possibility.
Apple has refused to comment on any rumors or speculation at this point.