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Wal-Mart Begins iPad Pre-Sales

Apple's hot-selling tablet officially goes on sale at the discount retailer on Friday.

Attention Wal-Mart shoppers, you can now place an order for an Apple iPad on the retailer's Web site.

Though the nationwide chainstore won't officially start selling Apple's tablet until Friday, shoppers can reserve a unit online. The catch is that they will have to physically visit a Wal-Mart brick-and-mortar location to pick up their purchase, as Wal-Mart isn't making the devices available for home delivery.

Wal-Mart's Web site as of midday Wednesday listed all six iPad models as currently in stock. Known for its discounts, Wal-Mart in this case is sticking to Apple's suggested retail prices, which start at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model and range through to the 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G model, which sells for $829.

Wal-Mart also reportedly plans to sell the iPad through its Sam's Club warehouse club.

Wal-Mart joins Target as the only other mass merchandiser to offer the iPad. 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.

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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