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10/15/2010
11:34 AM
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Apple's iPad Arrives At Wal-Mart

The discount chain is now the latest mass merchandiser to stock Steve Jobs' hot-selling tablet computer.

Apple's iPad tablet computer officially went on sale at Wal-Mart on Friday.

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The chain, which operates 3,600 stores across the U.S., recently confirmed long-simmering rumors that it would add the hot-selling tablet to its inventory starting Oct. 15, joining rival Target as the only other mass merchandiser to stock the device.

Consumers who are used to saving big at Wal-Mart shouldn't expect a discount—the retailer is selling the iPad at Apple's suggested prices, which range from $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model to $829 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G edition.

Like Target, Wal-Mart will not sell the iPad over the Internet. Orders can be placed online, but shoppers will have to pick up the device at one of the retailer's brick-and-mortar outlets. The iPad can also be purchased directly from in-store locations.

Adding outlets like Wal-Mart and Target to its list of authorized iPad sellers helps Apple broaden the device's appeal beyond the tech aficionados who've accounted for the bulk of early sales. In turn, the department stores benefit by stocking an item that's sure to draw additional foot traffic during the crucial holiday shopping season.

With an estimated 8.5 million units sold to date, Apple's iPad is now the fastest selling tech gadget in history, according to a financial analyst who tracks sales. Colin McGranahan, of Bernstein Research, called the iPad "a runaway success of unprecedented proportion" in a research note to investors last week.

The iPad smashed industry records earlier this year when it sold 3 million units in its first 80 days on the market. Third quarter sales were in the range of 4.5 million units, and overall it's estimated that Apple has shipped about 8.5 million iPads to date worldwide.

The iPad's blockbuster sales rate is beginning to eat into PC sales, partly at the expensive of Apple rival Microsoft. Research group NPD recently released a survey that found 13% of iPad buyers would have purchased a PC had the iPad not been available.

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