Apple is a marketing juggernaut that is seemingly able to sell computers and other devices at will, despite the poor global economy. Apple has continued to gain market share in the U.S. computer market and its MP3 players dominate the market.
Apple has also quickly dominated the smartphone market in the U.S. with the introduction this year of the iPhone 3G. So far the iPhone has grabbed 16.6% of the global smartphone market and it is the most popular phone in the U.S. overall.
If rumors are true, sales of the iPhone 3G are about to grow even more as Apple is reported to have teamed up with retail giant Walmart to sell a new 4GB iPhone 3G for a mere $99. Right now, the cheapest iPhone 3G is the 8GB version that retails for $199 and the 16GB version sells for $299.
According to Bloomberg Walmart is set to begin selling two models of the iPhone starting this month. Analyst Shaw Wu from Kaufman Brothers wrote in a research note, "A $99, Apple-branded cell phone is inevitable. One of the key things Apple needs to do to drive broader iPhone adoption is to build a more complete product line."
Naturally, Apple, Walmart, and AT&T have declined to comment on the rumor. Bloomberg contacted Walmart representatives in several California cities and got varied reports from the stores. All of the stores contacted did say the iPhone was coming to Walmart. One location said Walmart would get two models, whether that will be a 4GB version and the 8GB version or simply 8GB and 16GB versions like other sources including Best Buy sells is unknown.
As for the time frame, one store representative told Bloomberg that the iPhone would be available at Walmart on December 15. Other stores reported that the iPhone would be in stock at Walmart between Christmas and the New Year. Throwing a bit of water on the speculation fire is a Walmart representative in Vacaville, California who told Bloomberg that the store would get the 8GB and 16GB phones at the same $199 and $299 price points we have already seen across the country. The same employee said that the handsets would turn up on December 28.
IPhone shoppers in Europe have access to much better deals than shoppers in the U.S. can get for the most part. It would make sense for Apple to offer the 4GB iPhone 3G to lure in customers who aren’t interested in the iPhone at $199.
For the majority of iPhone users 4GB of storage would be plenty of space for storage of music and App Store applications. Some analysts see a cheaper model as a necessity for Apple so it can offer a full line of handsets from low-end, mid-range and high-end.
Another rumor that has cropped up since the iPhone debuted was a new 32GB handset. Apple and Walmart could throw a curve ball by unveiling a new higher-capacity iPhone and dropping the price of the current 8GB iPhone 3G to $99, but that move would be highly unlikely.