Is Wal-Mart the New Apple Rival?

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) said its stores will exclusively sell Boxee’s web-based device that combines live television and online video. The $98 Boxee TV, which competes with set-top device from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Roku, will be available at more than 3,000 Walmart locations in the U.S. during the holiday season. The retailer will also set up displays and send out marketing materials for the device.

The Boxee set-top box, which comes with a remote control and can access free TV channels and Internet content, has struggled to compete with Apple and Roku over the last few years. It sold 120,000 units last year, compared to 1.4 million for Roku, according to IHS iSuppli. Apple announced last week that it sold 5.3 million Apple TV devices in the past 12 months.

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“It’s going to be a big launch for us,” Boxee chief executive officer Avner Ronen told Bloomberg. “There’s a big difference between having your product being carried by retailers, where it sits on the shelf, and getting real marketing behind it.”

Boxee TV also includes a recently launched No Limits DVR service that allows for unlimited recordings of broadcast TV shows. Saved in the cloud, these can then also be accessed from a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Set-top box makers have been trying to compete with web-based media-streaming products such as YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), and Pandora (NYSE:P).

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