No $99 Apple iPhone 3G At Wal-Mart
Andrew R. Hickey
The nation's largest discount chain, however, will indeed be selling 8 GB and 16 GB models of the now-iconic smartphone for a few dollars less than Apple Stores come the end of the month, and the store already launched a pilot program in some stores.
Popular gadget blog Engadget has published what appears to be an internal Wal-Mart memo detailing the launch of in-store iPhone sales.
According to the document, Wal-Mart stores will start selling 3G iPhones on Dec. 28, with the 8 GB costing $197 and the 16 GB model costing $297, each with a two-year AT&T contract; a minimal discount compared to the $199 and $299 the respective models are sold for in Apple stores.
The memo makes no mention of Wal-Mart selling a $99 4-GB iPhone, which was discussed ad nauseam across the blogosphere.
The document indicates that starting today, 488 Wal-Mart stores will each receive iPhone 3Gs, which will be sold only to Wal-Mart employees, who receive a 15 percent AT&T contract discount benefit. Employees that want to be considered for an iPhone have to enter their names into a raffle in their specific stores. The document notes that each store that receives iPhones must sell all five throughout the pilot and the devices must be sold at full retail cost with an AT&T contract.
Along with limiting the pilot to Wal-Mart associates only, the memo states that Wal-Mart has signed a non-disclosure agreement with Apple that prohibits Wal-Mart employees from discussing the pilot with any non-Wal-Mart associates. So don't call your local Wal-Mart asking about them.
Wal-Mart has been tight-lipped on the prospect of selling the iPhone. Engadget's publishing of the internal memo is the first actual documentation that the stores will sell the popular device. If and when Wal-Mart starts selling the iPhone, it will be only the second authorized iPhone retailer outside of Apple stores. In September, Best Buy began selling the iPhone through its Best Buy Mobile stores.