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The Cultural and Economic Significance of Macs at Walmart

It has been confirmed that Apple’s iPhone will be sold at Walmart before the end of this year. While most may see this as a natural step in the iPhone’s evolution, the cultural and economic significance this has on both companies is astounding.


wal martCulturally speaking, Apple’s products have always been marketed as “high-end” products. Which is what most analysts will tell you is confining the company to a sliver of market share in the computer industry. In the portable media player category, Apple dominates the space. No other competitors can even come close to Apple’s market share. This has happened because Apple has made the iPods so attractively priced, and so readily available that anybody, at anytime can buy one. With the iPhone, Apple will eventually bring the same strategy forward, this is inevitable. But what this may lead to has perhaps not been focused on for more than a moment amidst all of the ongoing headlines.

Macs at Walmart? This would be a huge move for Apple. As CNBC’s Jim Goldman points out, both companies have an incredibly head-strong “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude towards business partnerships. Could Apple be loosening up its controlling ways? Not unlikely. The bleak reality sits within product availability and pricing these days. The economy is not in a good place and even moderately high priced products are looked at as too expensive.

By placing its Mac computers at Walmart, Apple could be making them available to an entire section of consumers that have never before been exposed. Not lower-level consumers per say, but consumers that are more interested in saving money. More interested in squeezing everything they can out of their hard earned dollar. And there is nothing wrong with that mentality. The idea that Apple’s products are only for those that can afford them should be tossed aside. Apple is a computer company, OS X is a direct competitor to Windows, and increasing market share should continuously be a high priority for them.

Consumer Reaction

mbpThe initial hesitance that Apple may see from its devoted customers and brand devotees should be taken with a grain of salt by the industry. No matter what analysts say about Apple’s brand devotion, consumers use Apple products because of how they function, not the social implication that comes along with the shiny Apple logo. Marketing and branding will always play a big role in Apple’s success. But convincing PC users who have had preconceived notions about the Mac for years, to give it a try, is fundamentally based on how Apple’s products work.

The economic reaction to Apple’s products by this new segment of exposed consumers should be welcoming. Apple’s products are not outrageously overpriced when compared to similar spec’d machines from PC rivals such as HP, Dell and Sony. Apple offers an entry level Macbook, which is a more than capable machine, at the sweet spot of $999. Walmart shoppers who have never before known they had a choice will realize that a PC with Windows is not their only option.

The sheer volume of Walmart’s distribution channel is very impressive. With upwards of 4,000 locations in the United States, Apple’s products could get a whole new wave of exposure. For example, a consumer with access only to Walmart, may never know that Apple has a competing product at the same price-point. By Apple placing its Macs at Walmart, this could be avoided. Potential customers could get hands-on with Apple’s products and test them out first hand.

Apple currently sell its iPods at Walmart, along with a slew of accessories both from Apple, as well as third party manufacturers. Additionally, it has been confirmed that Walmart will be carrying the iPhone by the end of 2008. This places Apple’s most sensitive, powerful and important sector of business, the iPhone, at the heart of America’s shopping masses. If Apple ever plans on entering the big leagues in terms of computer market share, placing some of its Mac products at Walmarts would be a giant step in the right direction.

We here at MacBlogz welcome the idea of Macs being sold at Walmart, or any other credible retailer for that matter. The bigger the Macintosh user base, the more ubiquitous Apple’s technologies will get, thus elevating the company’s initiatives to the forefront of the PC industry.

Comments [9]

9 Comments to “The Cultural and Economic Significance of Macs at Walmart”

Brin @ December 8th, 2008 at 2:18 pm
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Well, they couldn’t sell their more expensive products at Wal-Mart. But, they could offer some of their lower priced notebooks and maybe the iMac. This would make sense.


uS @ December 8th, 2008 at 2:29 pm
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this would be too nuts for me to handle.


tomK @ December 8th, 2008 at 4:26 pm
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YES ! If they want to seriously make a dent in market share then Apple will need to lose it’s “premium” overtone and make their products available everywhere. Like the PC.


Aviv @ December 8th, 2008 at 4:35 pm
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I’m not thinking that they need to entirely lose their premium appeal. But in my opinion, placing a few of their lower, entry-level products at retailers like Walmart would be a good move.


Rob @ December 8th, 2008 at 5:14 pm
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People have turned down Walmart before because they decided they couldn’t ship junk either:

I can’t see Apple slitting the throat of its own retail effort.


Joel @ December 8th, 2008 at 7:29 pm
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No one will rush to Walmart to but a 2,000 buck notebook. But iMac and MiniMacs are perfect for Walmart. No harm, no foul.


richard @ December 9th, 2008 at 6:26 am
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Joel is Right. Whatever Apple’s new Mac Mini and Apple TV will be, they would be insane NOT to offer it at Walmart. If Apple TV wants to challenge the cable companies insane ‘bundling’ practice and introduce ‘a-la-carte’ pricing of cable type offerings, Walmart would be an essential ally. If the Mac Mini is made into an appliance-like media server in January, it will be at Walmart. If not, we will see the new Apple TV with enhanced video game capabilities at Walmart.


bill @ December 10th, 2008 at 9:11 am
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“No matter what analysts say about Appleā€™s brand devotion, consumers use Apple products because of how they function, not the social implication that comes along with the shiny Apple logo.”

No company benefits more than Apple from its branding efforts. It’s cool to own a shiny lime-green/pink/purple Apple product. Many, many, many consumers don’t look or compare performance and capability prior to purchase, regardless of price. There’s much to be said about “if Buffy has one, I need one.”

Wal-Mart will diminish that reputation a bit but the profits will easily outweigh this.

Good move.


Jeremy @ December 10th, 2008 at 1:24 pm
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I hear Wal-Mart is actually selling a 512MB iPhone for $12…