Apple (AAPL - Get Report) is reportedly opening up another front in its smartphone war by teaming up with Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report) for the holiday season, although rumors of a $99 iPhone may be wide of the mark.
The San Jose Mercury News reports, for example, that iPhones could be on sale at Wal-Mart stores by the end of December, and possibly even before Christmas, although pricing is still not known. Bloomberg also reports that Wal-Mart is preparing to sell two versions of the iPhone.
The blogosphere has been rife with rumors of a 4GB $99 iPhone, sold via Wal-Mart, during recent weeks, although the MacRumors blog told a different story Monday.
"Based on available Wal-Mart training materials and advertising we've received, however, it seems that this rumor is unlikely," it said. "The advertising shown only lists 8-Gbyte iPhones for sale at $197, without any hints of a cheaper model.""The iPhone will go on sale at Wal-Mart beginning on December 28th," it added. At least one analyst was also skeptical about the possibility of Apple and Wal-Mart giving birth to a low-cost smartphone. History has proved that the Apple rumor mill is not always 100% reliable, according to Ramon Llames, senior research analyst at tech research firm IDC. "When the rumors of the first iPhone were surfacing, everyone was wrong," he said, highlighting the myriad form factors and features that Apple was rumored to be planning. Whereas the 8GB version of the iPhone has a starting price of $199, there has been speculation that Apple will sell a discontinued, 4GB iPhone via Wal-Mart. This would enable the company to hit a $99 price point, something that could prove popular in a recessionary climate.