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12/8/2008
01:51 PM
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Apple iPhone Reportedly Headed For Wal-Mart

News agencies have quoted Wal-Mart employees who say the discount retailer may be selling the popular smartphones by Christmas, and possibly for $99 apiece.

Apple is reportedly getting ready to sell the iPhone through Wal-Mart Stores.

Several news agencies, including the San Jose Mercury News, Bloomberg, and the Associated Press, have quoted unnamed Wal-Mart employees who say the popular smartphones are expected before the end of the year, possibly the week before Christmas. However, there was no confirmation that Wal-Mart would offer a $99, 4-GB iPhone, which was recently reported on rumor sites on the Web.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman responded Monday to the reports by saying, "We've made no official announcement on offering the iPhone at Wal-Mart."

However, if they are true, Wal-Mart would become the fourth major United States retailer to sell the iPhone, which is now available through Apple, Best Buy, and AT&T stores. AT&T is the exclusive wireless provider in the United States. The iPhone comes in an 8-GB and 16-GB model for $199 and $299, respectively. At those prices, however, the buyer must also subscribe to a two-year AT&T service plan that starts at $70 a month.

Wal-Mart has the potential of providing a major boost to iPhone sales. The company operates about 4,000 discount, supercenter, and Sam's Club stores with wireless sales departments in the United States, according to the Mercury News.

In addition, Wal-Mart has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak retail market in the economic downturn. The company in November reported a 9.8% increase in earnings for the third quarter, as sales rose 7.5%. At stores open at least a year, sales were up 3%, which was far better than nearly every other U.S. retailer, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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