It appears likely that Wal-Mart will soon be selling discounted iPhones alongside the Google Android handset. However, the price cut could be anywhere from a couple of bucks to $100.
Rumors of Wal-Mart stocking the phone have been swirling about for a few days, though it’s always seemed a possibility since the store announced it would stock the T-Mobile G1 at a reduced rate in late-October. As that phone runs on Google’s Android system, it would certainly be understandable if Apple didn’t want to risk it gaining mainstream acceptance through the discount chain’s customer base.
The rumors are now looking particularly credible. Bloomberg, a respected financial news agency, says employees in five Wal-Mart stores have confirmed they are being trained in selling the device and that it will be on the shelves by the end of the year.
The MacRumors site has even clearer evidence, with a photograph of a screen showing Wal-Mart advertising materials for the 8GB iPhone at $197. That’s a two-dollar discount, which seems unlikely to drive potential buyers into the store (where they’ll inevitable leave with a trolley full of stuff they didn’t even know they needed). It’s possible this is simply a token discount so that Wal-Mart can include the device in stats about how many products they have at a lower price.
The MacRumors source apparently has no materials showing a 4GB iPhone. That brings into question another widespread rumor, which is mentioned in the Bloomberg reports. That theory says Apple would develop a special 4GB edition to sell at Wal-Mart for just $99. However, one employee Bloomberg quotes refers to being trained in selling two iPhone models, which are presumably the 8GB and 16GB versions. Of course, it’s not impossible Apple has leaked out the 4GB rumor itself to see what the response is from both media reports and public feedback.