Apple pact with Wal-Mart ‘broader than some realize’

Morgan Stanley analyst Rebecca Runkle said today that Apple’s pact with Wal-Mart may be broader than some realize.

“While we don’t believe Apple iPod availability at Wal-Mart is completely new news, we do think the partnership is broader than people think, in transition and set to expand in the near-term,” Runkle said in a research note to clients.

Runkle said Apple and the retail giant have expanded their initial test rollout in the last few months. Confirming the report, iLounge readers in Florida, Indiana, Texas and elsewhere have noted in recent weeks that they’ve seen various iPod models at their local Wal-Mart stores. Select Wal-Mart locations are carrying the 20GB iPod, the iPod mini, and the iPod shuffle, along with HP-branded versions.

Runkle estimates that sales of iPods at Wal-Mart locations could boost sales by 100,000 units and add $20 million in revenue each quarter. “We view the growing Wal-Mart relationship as a positive—a way to expand the brand to the mainstream and additive to the bottom-line,” she said.

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