Wal-Mart Sells Contract-Free iPhones, But They Ain’t Cheap

Keep the good Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) news coming. Just days after Apple updated its online store to reflect the promise that it can ship its iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C within 24 hours, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) announced that it has added the two smartphone devices to its contract-free Straight Talk Wireless and Net 10 Wireless networks. That means that consumers who want an iPhone 5S but are reluctant to sign a contract can now get the best of both worlds, right at their neighborhood Wal-Mart.

According to CNBC, Apple wants its iPhones to appeal to a broader market, and that is especially true for its newly launched devices, as many consumers strive to own the smartphones but believe they are out of their price range or don’t want to commit to buying a contract. Selling the no-contract phones at Wal-Mart increases the phones’ appeal, because the retailer can take advantage of its reputation for catering to a cost-conscious crowd, and thus works with the assertion, “We’re selling it at Walmart, no contract — you can afford it, ” a strategy highlighted by CNET’s Lindsey Turrentine.

Apple is now especially trying to pull out all the stops to get its iPhone 5C off the shelves, because consumers simply aren’t taking to the low-end smartphone as well as the company would like. Apple launched the 5C with the 5S in September to provide customers with a lower-priced smartphone option, working with the notion that not all buyers want to fork over the big bucks for their phones, but the company has still seen significantly greater interest in its flagship 5S rather than its 5C, and now Apple needs to employ new strategies to get both sold.

Unfortunately, Wal-Mart’s new plan to sell off the iPhones is a good one, but the devices are still Apple products, meaning consumers are not going to be able to avoid high prices, no matter where the products are sold. According to CNET, Wal-Mart’s Straight Talk Wireless and Net 10 Wireless plans start at $45 and $50 a month, respectively, but that price doesn’t include the phone — where consumers really get slammed. Under the new plans, the iPhone 5S 16GB sells for $649, while the iPhone 5C goes for $549. The plans are slated to begin this Friday.

Following Wal-Mart’s announcement, the CEO of the company that owns Straight Talk and Net 10, TracFone Wireless, said in a statement, “Our growing lineup of premium smartphones with the addition of iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C reflects our dedication to providing consumers with affordable plans on the top phones on the nation’s fastest and most reliable 4G LTE networks.”

Now, regardless of the high prices, Wal-Mart stands apart from its competitors like Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Target (NYSE:TGT), because both have yet to offer no-contract plans for Apple phones.

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