December 29, 2008

Walmart iPhone Kiosk Look

walmart-iphone-photo-120.jpgDigital City correspondent takes some shots of the new iPhone kiosk in Walmart (which is more specifically a POP fixture). The brand of Apple and the iPhone is in the class of Disney and it's a little odd to see their units in what can only be termed a bland design at best. Dan Ackerman of Digital City. Also related story "Consumers now can avoid 'snooty Apple stores' and get iPhones at Walmart".

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Brief encounter with the Wal-Mart iPhone display
Posted by Dan Ackerman

Owing to, as Tom Lehrer would say, nepotism and intrigue, I found myself in the small town of Brenham, Texas, this Sunday on the very day that Apple's iPhone was to go on sale at the Wal-Mart mega-chain (an outfit that I, as a native New Yorker, have had very little experience with).

Popping in to check out the action and snag some photos, I found a single iPhone display -- it would be generous to call it a kiosk -- with an activated iPhone and a handful of brochures. The price tags on display gave both the new customer/upgrade price, as well as the full retail price. A small paper sign taped to the wall announced that iPhone sales would commence at 9:00 am, and that customers should line up for access to limited stock.
I asked a sales clerk about first-day sales, and she said as far as she knew they hadn't sold a single unit so far, "but maybe if they had started selling it before Christmas..." There was, however, a steady stream of gawkers checking out the display unit in the 10 or so minutes I spent in the electronics department.
Herewith some photos of the in-store Wal-Mart display:


Consumers now can avoid 'snooty Apple stores' and get iPhones at Walmart

So much for $99 iPhones. And do you think we will see any Sprint Instinct kiosks sprouting inside the stores of the nation’s, er world’s, er universe’s largest retailer anytime soon?

Starting Sunday, Walmart indeed will begin selling the Apple iPhone.

“Walmart is excited to announce the availability of the iPhone 3G at nearly 2,500 Walmart stores beginning Sunday, December 28, 2008,” the world’s largest retailer announced today.

As speculation of this development emerged in recent weeks, some suggested massive price breaks – even a sub-$100 iPhone. Consumers patronizing the home of everyday low prices will get a break, but not one that goes below $100.

“The retailer will offer the black 8 GB iPhone 3G model with the every day price of $197 and the 16 GB black or white model for $297, with a new two-year service agreement from AT&T or qualified upgrade. As America's price leader, Walmart's price match policy also allows stores to match the price of any local competitor's advertised store price on the same item within the same promotional period,” Walmart stated.

Gary Severson, a senior vice president at Walmart, said his company was excited about the development. Walmart clerks have been working for many weeks preparing to help new customers learn more about the “features and services that make the iPhone unique.” Consumers can visit “Apple iPhone 3G kiosks located at the Walmart Connection Center.”

The company called the devices revolutionary and able to tap third-generation networks twice as fast as the original iPhone, but the twice as fast claim was accompanied by an asterisk stating that “Actual speeds vary by site conditions.”

Wow. So much for the Christmas spirit. Sure seems like a slam at AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier for the iPhone.

Fortune’s Apple 2.0 bloggers said this development is a coup, for Apple and AT&T.

“The move represents the fourth major expansion of the iPhone’s retail presence outside Apple’s own 200-plus stores,” they stated. “The phone was sold first at AT&T’s 2,000 retail outlets, then at nearly 1,000 Best Buy outlets, and then at the tens of thousands of points of sale (many of them no more than mom-and-pop kiosks) that carry iPhones for Apple’s overseas partners. Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster has estimated that Apple could easily sell as many iPhones through Wal-Mart stores in 2009 as it sells through its own Apple Stores — about 4.5 million units, by his calculation, or more than 1,200 iPhones per store.”

Pricing trends will be worth watching.

Walmart prices will start out at $197 and $297, a whopping $2 off current prices. Buzz, buzz, buzzing lately had speculated about a possible $99 iPhone.

As Appleinsider suggested, maybe an iPhone price fight could break out.

“Wal-mart also announced that its price match policy allows stores to match the price of any local competitor's advertised store price on the iPhone should one of its rivals announce lower pricing,” Appleinsider stated.

We were kind of wondering whether the typical iPhone consumer would be interested in leaving the mystical environs of Steve Jobs’ aesthetically pleasing Apple stores, or even an AT&T outlet, to pick up one of the mobile phones sure to fill one with a sense of childlike wonder.

Apparently, however, this new move could add another demographic of customers carrying the iPhone.

“guess i’ll be cruising by Wallyworld this weekend to check out the action,” stated a commenter on the Barrons’ Tech Trader Daily blog. “i’m telling you, there are lots of people who will want the iPhone but don’t want to go to some snooty Apple store because they don’t think they are cool enough….like the millions of people who have bought a Wii.”

Posted by staff at December 29, 2008 07:42 AM