Bloomberg was able to get multiple employees at Wal-Mart stores in California to admit that the discount retailer will indeed be selling the Apple iPhone later this month. The employees did not, however, confirm the existence of a $99 iPhone.To be clear, none of the companies involved have officially confirmed anything. No word from Apple, AT&T, nor Wal-Mart on whether or not this report is accurate. That said, Bloomberg reports, "A clerk in Stockton, California, who didn't want to provide his full name, said he was told iPhones would be available around Dec. 15. Two additional store representatives, who also asked not be named, said the outlets in Sacramento and Marysville, California, would have iPhones in stock between Christmas and the New Year."
The employees said that the same models will be available at Wal-Mart as already are available elsewhere. The 3G iPhone 8-GB model continues to sell for $199 on contract, and the 16-GB model continues to sell for $299 on contract at Apple Stores, AT&T retail outlets, and at Best Buy.
Wal-Mart has a large presence in many markets across the United States. If Apple is serious about getting the iPhone into as many hands as possible, making it available at the world's largest retailer makes sense. Wal-Mart has stores in areas that aren't served by Best Buy or Apple itself. Wal-Mart already sells both pre-paid and post-paid mobile phones from other network operators and handset manufacturers.
Last week I reported that analysts believe that Apple and its carrier partners will eventually discount the 3G iPhone to the $99 price point. That has not yet been confirmed.