Chicago (IL) – Wal-Mart and its wholesale subsidiary Sam’s Club will join Best Buy in selling Apple’s iPhone. According to JPRG Research analyst Jamie Townsend, Wal-Mart will begin offering the iPhone 3G on December 28 in 2500 of 3500 Wal-Mart stores across the nation, as well as in 69 of 500 Sam’s Club locations. The news follows a previously reported Android G1 deal that Wal-Mart recently cut with T-Mobile. If correct, the iPhone 3G points of sale will expand to almost 6000 retail locations across the nation. Also, there is still a rumor that Apple may be cutting the price of its iPhone to $149 in January.
The possibility of the Wal-Mart deal was outlined in a research note sent out by Townsend sent to her clients. She expects that it will be a standard distribution deal, which means that “the purchase of an iPhone will still require a two year contract with AT&T and is likely to be priced the same or less than at AT&T or Apple stores.” Townsend believes about 8 million iPhone 3Gs will be sold in the December quarter and suggests that Apple may also add Costco to the list of iPhone 3G retailers.
Townsend reignited previous rumors, which not only suggested that Costco – which is already selling iPods – will be offering the iPhone, but also that the Costco launch will coincide with a price drop of the phone to $149. Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry was first to predict such a price drop about one week ago.
Cellphone site BGR echoes the Townsend’s note with a leaked memo that Wal-Mart headquarters allegedly sent to its employees on Tuesday.”We are pleased to announce that Wal-Mart has reached an agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone 3G in Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart-managed Sam’s Club Connection Centers nationwide beginning December 28, 2008.”
The document, whose authenticity is not yet confirmed, goes on to claim that AT&T will support Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club with the handset activation process. Adding Wal-Mart to its portfolio could be a big deal for Apple. The move could almost double the number of iPhone 3G points of sale to nearly 6000 retail locations across the nation. The iPhone 3G already sells at more than 3000 locations in the U.S. alone: 186 Apple Stores and 2000 AT&T stores, in addition to 986 Best Buy stores. With Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club in the picture, the number of iPhone 3G points of sale grows to 5741 locations.
Earlier this month, Wal-Mart started selling T-Mobile’s Android G1 smartphone at its top ten stores in each market for $148.88, which represents a $31.11 discount over the T-Mobile’s $199 price point. The agreement expanded the distribution footprint of the Android G1 handset to 550 Wal-Mart brick-and-mortar stores, in addition to T-Mobile’s own online and retail stores across the nation.