Gary Severson, senior vice president of entertainment for Walmart's U.S. stores, told BusinessWeek that his company believes it will carry the iPad later this year. Specific details, including timing and pricing, were not provided.
Since the iPad launched in early April, Apple has sold the multitouch device at its own retail stores, as well as Best Buy and other assisted locations. Some Apple Specialist locations also carry the hardware. Combined with online sales, Apple managed to sell more than a million iPads in the device's first 28 days of availability in the U.S. alone.
Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook revealed in February that Apple would expand retail availability of the iPad "over time," but did not provide a specific timeframe or mention any potential partners.
Walmart's planned restructuring of its electronics departments is based around "self-educated" consumers, Severson said. In addition to carrying the iPad, the retailer plans to offer more Internet-connected HDTVs, Blu-ray players, mobile phones and routers that allow consumers to link their electronic devices with one another in their homes. The goal is to ensure that consumers "don't have to go to a specialty shop" to get what they need, he said.
The partnership between Apple and Walmart has blossomed over the years, beginning in 2005 when the retailer began a pilot program selling Apple's short-lived HP-branded 20GB iPod. Over time, the nation's largest retail chain began carrying Apple's full line of iPods, and in 2008 some of its stores began selling the iPhone 3G.
A year ago, Walmart began overhauling many of its retail stores' electronics departments with Apple-designated shopping areas. At the time, it was believed the change could be a precursor to the company making a pitch to carry the Apple's line of Mac computers.