Discounted iPhone looks likely for Wal-Mart, but for $197, not $99

An impending Wal-Mart ad leaked this week indicates that the iPhone will indeed go on sale at Wal-Mart -- except that it'll probably be the 8 GB version, and for $197.

While none of three companies involved is publicly commenting yet, an increasing body of circumstantial evidence suggests that Wal-Mart really will start selling the iPhone 3G on December 28 -- but that Wal-Mart's iPhone will be the 8 GB version, priced at $197, only $2 less than AT&T's price tag of $199 with a two-year service contract.

Contrary to rumors circulating last week, it appears that Wal-Mart will not be offering a 4 GB iPhone 3GB for the more affordable price tag of $99.

As previously reported in BetaNews, accounts of a possible 4 GB iPhone 3G originated in the Boy Genius Report blog before being picked up by major media last week.

In October, BGR published an internal memo from Wal-Mart announcing that Wal-Mart had reached agreement with Apple to market an iPhone at "Wal-Mart stores and Wal-Mart-managed Sam's Club Connection Centers nationwide beginning December 28."

Then last Thursday, BGR cited unnamed sources as stating that Apple might be looking at coming up with a vastly upgraded version of its phased out 4 GB iPhone and permitting Wal-Mart to sell a 4 GB 3G device for just $99 with a two-year contract.

BGR didn't seem to trust those sources entirely, however. "Don't hate us if this doesn't happen," readers were cautioned.

The reports actually seemed somewhat feasible, given a similar deal struck recently by Wal-Mart for the Android-based G1 phone, along with current pricing for higher-end models of Apple's iPhone 3G.

Wal-Mart has already been selling G1s for $148.88, or about $31 less than wireless carrier T-Mobile is charging for the same phones. Now, however, an impending Wal-Mart advertisement leaked to MacRumors and published there gives the iPhone's price at Wal-Mart as $197.

Unnamed Wal-Mart store employees have reportedly told other publications that Wal-Mart will start selling an iPhone at the end of December.

But Kelly Cheeseman, a Wal-Mart spokesperson, issued a statement to BetaNews on Friday which neither confirms nor denies intentions by Wal-Mart to sell an iPhone in its stores.

Apple spokespersons contacted by BetaNews and other publications have been temporary unavailable for comment.

Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesperson, told BetaNews today that AT&T is not commenting on the Wal-Mart rumors, and referred BetaNews to Apple instead.

AT&T's Siegel, though, did comment on published reports that AT&T will be standardizing on a single mobile OS for its smartphones, telling BetaNews that these accounts are incorrect.

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