Wal-Mart Preparing Stores for TouchPad Arrival
Wal-Mart is just one of the many partners HP has announced for the new TouchPad but there's no doubting the retail giant's clout in the industry. So it goes without saying that seeing many Wal-Mart and Best Buy mobile retail stores across the country reorganizing their electronics department to make room for tablets is an encouraging sign.
With word that the TouchPads were appearing in Wal-Mart's internal inventory system and new displays being installed on the 6th, I visited two Wal-Mart stores in the Charlotte, NC area earlier this week to see if any additional evidence was on display. Both stores were in the process of carving out new tablet areas where e-readers and mp3 players were previously displayed. While an Apple iPad endcap dominated the department, signage for HP's 32Gb wi-fi Touchpad was already in place. Curiously, the $499 16Gb Touchpad is nowhere to be seen, a puzzling choice given the value-oriented nature of many of Wal-Mart's offerings and the popularity of the lower-priced iPad and Android tablet SKUs.
It was also interesting to note the TouchPad's positioning amongst three Android Honeycomb-based tablets, from size, spec, and pricing standpoints. Also on this shelf was a tag for a 7" Acer tablet at $350, an 8" Vizio tablet also at $350, and a 10.1" Acer Iconia A500 priced at $450. Of those competitors, only the 10.1" Acer is currently available on the market and was the only one available for sale in the store.
A few additional details are available on the Wal-Mart shelf tag, such as the 2-year extended warranty for $99 and that Wal-Mart will likely be carrying the Touchstone dock and a case for the TouchPad. This represents the first time I have ever seen any "Palm" product or HP mobile product other than netbooks and notebooks in a Wal-Mart store.