As expected, Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone will go on sale at Walmart (WMT) stores this coming Sunday, Dec. 28.
Walmart will sell the 8 GB iPhone for $197, a 1% discount from its $199 retail price; and the 16 GB iPhone for $297, a 0.7% discount from its $299 retail price.
This is great news for Apple: It adds another 2,500 distribution points for the iPhone, and makes sure that smartphone competitors like the Google (GOOG) G1 aren’t the only ones Walmart shoppers are exposed to. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster thinks Apple could sell 4.5 million iPhones at Walmart next year.
Meanwhile, the deal could also pad Apple’s December quarter iPhone shipment totals, assuming Apple recognises units shipped to Walmart this quarter — which ends tomorrow.
If each Walmart store gets an average 200 iPhones as inventory, that’s 500,000 iPhone shipments Apple can recognise this quarter. Even if each store gets an average 100 iPhones, that will nicely pad this quarter’s numbers. (And if for some reason Apple waits until next quarter to recognise the shipments, they’ll help during a seasonally slow March quarter.)
Missing from Walmart’s release: The rumoured $99 iPhone. We never thought this rumour was happening just yet, but we still think it’s a good idea. Apple is in the first phase of a very important market share land grab, and soon it will be able to cut iPhone prices by $100 while keeping the same margins, according to multiple Wall Street analysts. We still think Apple will sell a $99 iPhone by the middle of next year.