U.S. retail giant Walmart (s wmt) has confirmed that it will be offering the Apple (s aapl) iPad at hundreds of its stores beginning Friday, Oct. 15. Despite a relatively small initial launch pool, by the time Black Friday rolls around in November, that number is expected to grow to 2,300 nationwide.
Walmart confirmed the news Monday evening, following rumors circulating last week that it would start carrying the iPad sometime this week. All six iPad configurations, including both Wi-Fi and 3G + Wi-Fi models, will be on sale at the Arkansas-based big box retailer.
You don’t have to wait until this Friday to make a purchase at Walmart, though. According to some sources, the iPad is already appearing on shelves in some stores next to the iPods that are already there. Also, you can order a few models of the iPad online through Walmart’s online store, though the only shipping option available is site-to-store. At the present time, only the 64GB iPad with Wi-Fi, and the 32 and 64GB iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G are available for online order, with the rest showing “Out of Stock.” It’s likely the cheaper models are being reserved for in-store sales, since they’re much more likely to be bought off the shelf.
Walmart joins Target (s tgt) and Best Buy (s bby), both of which began selling the iPad as major national third-party chains to offer the iPad for sale. Apple is clearly keen on making sure that it has as wide a retail base as possible going into the holiday shopping season, especially now that it seems to have resolved the supply chain limitations that kept its popular tablet sold out at many locations following its launch.
The iPhone first went on sale at Walmart in December of 2008. Apple reported its best quarterly revenue and earnings ever for the quarter ending Dec. 27, 2008, including quarterly iPhone sales of 4,363,000, which marked 88 percent growth compared to the same period the previous year. Obviously, Walmart wasn’t the only reason for the spike in sales, as the iPhone was steadily growing in popularity before it became available there, but increased retail presence at one of the largest chains in the U.S. couldn’t have hurt those numbers.
Availability at Walmart, even in limited quantities (sources report only five per store at launch) will help ensure there’s an iPad under as many trees as is realistically possible this holiday season.
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