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Employees at various Wal-Mart stores told Reuters on Monday the retailer will sell the iPhone in a week or two, although a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the retailer has “made no official announcement” on offering the iPhone at this time.
Apple shares rose 5 percent in morning trade. A report in the San Jose Mercury News said the touch-screen phone would hit the shelves of the U.S. retail giant by year-end.
Numerous websites have speculated in recent weeks that Apple will offer a 4-gigabyte model of the iPhone for $99, which holds about 1,000 songs, at Wal-Mart stores.
CNBC said on Monday that while Apple would be selling the phone at the discount retailer, it would not cost as little as $99.
An Apple spokesman said the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.
Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves said a deal with Wal-Mart would be good news as it would help Apple to increase volume sales of the phone, which is also available at Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N).
“(Apple gets) exposure to a demographic they don’t have a lot of exposure to,” said Hargreaves, adding that he did not believe Apple would cut a deal with Wal-Mart that would hurt its margins.
Wal-Mart has been gaining market share and clout amid the U.S. recession as cash-strapped shoppers seek out its low prices, especially for hot electronics.
AT&T Inc (T.N), the exclusive U.S. wireless service provider for iPhone, currently sells the cheapest version for $199 for a model with 8 gigabytes of storage, and $299 for the 16-gigabyte version. AT&T declined to comment.
On top of the phone’s price tag, U.S. iPhone buyers also need to sign up for data services costing at least $30 a month for unlimited Web access at AT&T. Text messaging costs another $5 a month for 200 messages, or $20 for unlimited texting.
Apple shares rose 5.67 percent to $99.33 in morning trade on Nasdaq. Wal-Mart shares were down 0.4 percent at $57.98. (Reporting by Sinead Carew and Nicole Maestri in New York and Eric Yep in Bangalore; Editing by John Wallace and Derek Caney)