What if Apple sold Macs at Wal-Mart?

“Culturally 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,” Aviv Hadar writes for MacBlogz. “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,” Hadar writes. “Could Apple be loosening up its controlling ways? Not unlikely.”

MacDailyNews Note: For the double-negative averse: “likely.”

Hadar continues, “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.”

MacDailyNews Take: Not according to a study conducted by ChangeWave in early November, 33% of notebook buyers and 27% of desktop buyers plan to buy an Apple Mac in next 90 days. Continuing with our theme of actual verifiable facts, in the U.S., Apple Mac units sales are growing at a rate 30 times that of PC market. To us it doesn’t sound at all like Macs are looked at as too expensive.

Hadar continues, “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.”

MacDailyNews Take: We can’t ship junk. There are thresholds we can’t cross because of who we are. The difference is, we don’t offer stripped-down, lousy products.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, August 7, 2007

Hadar continues, “The 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.”

MacDailyNews Take: Sounds good and may even be true of the majority of Mac users. Now, when it comes to the more devoted Mac users, people who would visit MacDailyNews for example, we have the results of an poll we ran over the last few days in which 46% responded “No” to the question “Should Apple offer a $99 iPhone in Wal-Mart?”

Hadar continues, “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.”

MacDailyNews Take: Untrue. Wal-Mart shoppers have been offered the option of cheaply-priced Linux PCs. Wal-Mart pulled them from shelves due to poor sales this past spring. At the time, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Melissa O’Brien explained, “This really wasn’t what our customers were looking for.” To which we replied, “Yeah. They were looking for Slim Jims, pro wrestling posters, 56×29 Faded Glory jeans, and beer helmets.”

Hadar continues, “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.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The allure of market share is strong, but wouldn’t Macs at Wal-Mart have the great potential of being neglected and poorly displayed (Think Sears) while also resulting in diluting the brand that Apple has worked so hard to build and differentiate from the PC box assemblers (Dell, HP, etc.)?

Maybe Mac minis. Or maybe even Mac minis, the low-end 20-inch iMac, and the white MacBook at Wal-Mart. Maybe. But, we type even that with great reservation. “More harm than good!” SteveJack bellows down the cavernous halls of our palatial headquarters. Tell us what you think below and also in our poll – located in the upper left column.

76 Comments

  1. honestly it would remove the “shine” from my apple. i get the mass reach, but at what cost. fan boys will continue to visit the temples of glass and stainless steel built for us, but i cant see anyone asking the sales clerk walmart apple to explain sync issues with mobileme.

  2. My main concern would be that Apple sales would increase exponentially, beyond its ability for quality control and, more important, have a crippling affect on tech support.

  3. Selling Macs at Wal Mart would be a mistake. Because of the perceived price differentials, an educated staff is needed to explain the differences between Macs and the little crap box Windows PCs.
    Apple does a lot of advertising and between Best Buy, the Apple On-line store, and Apple’s Retail Stores, access to Macs is easy for anybody.

  4. Sooner, or later, you’re going to see Macs in Wal-Mart. But by then Mac share will be well over 20%, and won’t require a knowledgeable seller, as they do now.

    When that happens DELL is dead meat, because the only thing they’ll be selling by then, will be $499 net machines with no margins.

  5. In my position an Apple customer of 30+ years, a Wal-Mart customer for even longer, and a long-time Cocoa developer, I strongly endorse the sale of entry-level Macs at Wal-Mart.

    Wal-Mart is a well-managed company, like Apple, and I can see a mutually beneficial relationship between these two great American companies and their customers. I know both of these companies very well, and I’m absolutely confident that they can have a successful business relationship.

  6. I lived through the 90’s where Apple tried selling mac at basic electronic resellers. Horrible, horrible, horrible! I honestly don’t even want to see Wallyworld selling iPod touches or iPhones.

    The help you get when buying from the Apple retail store or a good VAR is worth it’s weight in gold. That can make a tremendous difference to a new mac owner. Apple knows this and this is why Apple launched it’s own retail store chain. Selling at Wallyworld would be a huge step backwards and not help Apple or it’s users in the long run.

    The deal Apple has with Best Buys is ok and IMHO about a low as Apple should be willing to go.

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