So what Happened when WalMart started selling the iPod?
You know, with all the requisite surety the internet can provide, that WalMart is going to start selling the iPhone. What remains unknown is if AT&T is behind the move, if the move will hurt the perception of the iPhone’s exclusivity or if anyone will actually care.
Well, that people care is a known, it’s news after all. The other questions are known unknowns. Of course there are also unknown unknowns but since we don’t know what those are we can skip them. What we need are some known knowns, those are much easier to work with. If only there was case where Apple started selling some high profile product at WalMart. That would be awesome because you could compare what happened when WalMart began selling some high profile Apple.
So what high profile, consumer electronic like product did Apple start selling at WalMart after initial success without WalMart? Well, it isn’t going to be the AppleTV, that’s for sure. How about the iPod. The picture is completely analogous, the iPod roll out at WalMart was full of weirdness. First the HP branded iPod (the original iCarly) showed up but people were a bit skeptical of it. Then a few minis trickled out in early 2005. Finally WalMart started selling iPods full force later that year.
So where did iPod sales go after they showed up in force at WalMart? They shot through the roof. The Christmas sales are the giveaway here, Apple went from selling 6.5 million iPods in the three months before the holiday season to 14 million during the Christmas quarter. Giving credit to WalMart for this huge bump in quarterly sales is probably giving WalMart too much credit but that doesn’t mean that being at WalMart means nothing. Even if WalMart sold a comparatively small number of iPods the fact that the iPod was at WalMart means that the public had fully accepted the iPod. It had gone from niche, cool guy toy to tech toy everyone wanted. Being at WalMart didn’t hirt the iPod but it did let everyone know that the iPod was here to stay.
Phones you might think would be a completely different case. You’ve got that whole contract thing to deal and no one buys phones on impulse. But is it really that different or will the iPhones presence in WalMart vault it from trendy cool guy gadget to the realm of “the best product that will be around forever?”