As an Apple fanatic, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the announcement that Wal-Mart begins selling the iPhone today. First, there's no real discount (only $2 lower than regular MSRP) even given Wal-Mart's mammoth buying and selling power and, secondly, it just seems like an odd venue for an Apple product.
In general, Apple products just don't seem to fit the business profile or buyer demographic for Wal-Mart. However, I realize that I'm coming at this from the perspective of a life-long Apple Computer user and, as was made clear a year ago, Apple is no longer simply a "computer" company. The name change made complete sense, of course, given Apple's expansion beyond the box historically labelled the "personal computer" and opened up a host of new opportunities and sales venues.
Apple is out to become the #1 maker of smart phones and Wal-Mart can certainly move more product than anyone else. Plus, from Apple's point of view, Wal-Mart and the iPhone might be something of a gateway drug -- get someone who wouldn't normally consider an Apple product to buy an iPhone and they'll be more inclined to stick with Apple for other products in the future. Of course, Wal-Mart also sells iPods so it's not such a huge stretch I guess. Besides, if you can get your product into the world's largest retailer without giving up your shirt (or soul) or without concerning yourself about how Wal-Mart keeps those prices so low, what company wouldn't want to do that? As an Apple purist, though, I just wonder about the cost.