Limited device doesn't allow app loading, only for Vudu
Walmart has commenced sales on the Vudu Spark video streamer on its website, in addition to 2,500 stores US-wide. The HDMI dongle is, as expected, a one-feature device intended only to provide streaming content from the Walmart Vudu service powered by a USB port, controlled by a dedicated remote control. Connectivity is through 802.11n Wi-Fi. Resolutions supported include 1080p 60Hz, with the addition of 7.1 surround sound audio.
New Virgin Mobile plans with data sharing available via Walmart
Virgin Mobile has become the first prepaid carrier in the United States to offer no-contract data sharing plans. The "Data Done Right" plans, going on sale from tomorrow though Walmart, will provide LTE data on Sprint's cellular network to multiple lines under the same prepaid account, along with unlimited calls and unlimited texts across all lines.
Walmart attempts to retain holiday sales by price matching Amazon
Walmart stores will soon offer price matching against Amazon product listings, in time for the holiday shopping period. Managers at the retailers stores have been informed of the policy change, formalizing a practice already being conducted at half the stores according to Reuters, with the ultimate aim of encouraging customers to continue visiting its stores rather than shopping online.
Budget retailer to host three short-term 'events'
Walmart will be including Apple products in three different US Black Friday sales "events," the retailer has announced. The first event, actually scheduled for November 27 starting at 6PM local time, will include a 16GB non-Retina first-gen Wi-Fi iPad mini for $199 ($50 less than Apple's price), bundled with a $30 gift card. Customers also be able to buy a set of Beats Wireless headphones for $149, $130 below normal retail price.
Chromecast-style HDMI streamer from Walmart may ship soon
Walmart is preparing to launch a streaming HDMI dongle, similar to the Google Chromecast, Amazon's Fire TV Stick, and the Roku Streaming Stick, according to an FCC filing. The Vudu Spark is similar in shape and size to its competition, connecting directly to the HDMI port on a television, though it is unclear if it will have the same level of utility as other devices.
News from the video game industry for the week of October 26
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN report on news from the video game industry during the previous week. In this week's edition, we take a look at the dismissal of Manuel Noriega's lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, Bethesda Softworks officially cancelling Prey 2, Walmart starting used game sales, Shadow of the Eternal development, Dying Light dropping previous-generation console development, and a new trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD.
Retailers choose platform-agnostic option
Two major US retailers -- Best Buy and Walmart -- have announced that they will not support Apple Pay, according to the Wall Street Journal. The companies are instead said to be backing a payment service operated by Merchant Customer Exchange. The MCX technology requires only an app download, and is platform-agnostic, supporting older iPhones as well as Android devices. Apple Pay will be restricted to the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Apple Watch.
Still below chief rival Samsung
Apple has risen from 19th to 15th place in Fortune's annual Global 500 rankings, which chart corporations according to revenue. "Apple, the maker of the globally popular iPhone and iPad devices, posted sales of almost $171 billion in 2013, 9% higher than the prior year," the magazine writes. "But the company has come under pressure in the competitive smartphone business, and its profit shrank 11% to $37 billion from 2012 to 2013. Even so, Apple has a huge amount of cash on hand, and CEO Tim Cook recently deployed some of that cash pile by announcing $30 billion in stock buybacks."
In prelude to next iPhone, retailer to slash prices to $99, $29 respectively
Walmart is planning to again permanently lower prices on the current iPhone models, cutting the cost of an iPhone 5s on contract to $99, a drop from its previously-discounted price of $149. The iPhone 5c will see an even more dramatic drop, down to $29 from $49. At most other outlets, the 5s sells for $199 and the iPhone 5c for $99 with a two-year contract commitment. The permanent new pricing is said to take effect beginning tomorrow, but only for in-store sales rather than Walmart's online store.
Topped only by firms like Walmart, Exxon
Apple has climbed one spot to sit at fifth in the latest Fortune 500 rankings. "Apple's net sales keep climbing, as the tech giant continues to sell more iPhones and digital content," the magazine writes. "But the company faces pressure in the smartphone business, as Android phones grow increasingly dominant. Meanwhile, Apple reported an annual drop in net income in fiscal year 2013, a first in more than a decade."
T-Mobile announces launch of its tablets at Walmart
T-Mobile has announced that Walmart will offer its tablets nationwide. Featuring T-Mobile's "Free Data for Life" offer, customers receive 200MB of monthly data for the life of each tablet, with prepaid plans starting at $10 per month for up to 1.2GB of data. The Trio AXS 3G Quad Core tablet is now available for $180, and includes a 7.85-inch screen, 1.2GHz processor and 16GB on-device storage. The HP Slate 7 HD tablet will be available in June for $230, featuring 4G connectivity, multi-touch HD wide angle viewing, Beats Audio enhancement and 16GB on-device storage.
Walmart's on-demand video service now allows sharing of UltraViolet-licensed content
Vudu, Walmart's video-on-demand service, has announced its launch of "Share My Movies," allowing UltraViolet-licensed digital content to be shared with up to five friends. The friends' email addresses are required to be input in order to activate sharing. Upon a friend creating their own Vudu login, they will be able to view the user's library. Up to three simultaneous streams per account are supported.
Plans still nebulous
Apple is among of a number of US corporations that have agreed to change hiring practices to avoid discriminating against the long-term unemployed, says the New York Times. The pledge comes at the behest of President Obama, who is hosting a meeting of CEOs at the White House later today to promote his efforts. White House officials say that about 300 businesses have agreed to alter hiring policies, including 21 of the 50 biggest American corporations, and 47 out of the top 200.
Availability expected December 13
TracFone has announced that it will be offering prepaid iPhone 5s and 5c handsets, sold through the company's Net10 and Straight Talk brands. The iPhone 5c will sell for $549 with 16GB of storage and the standard range of color choices, while the 16GB iPhone 5s fetches $649 in gray, silver or gold.
Continues trend of undercutting normal Apple prices
From November 1st, Walmart will be selling the iPad Air starting at $479 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model, the retailer has announced. That price is $20 below Apple's list cost. Walmart has yet to say what discounts might apply to other Air models, or if it will be cutting the cost of the Retina iPad mini as well.
Trial by Walmart-owned store could lead to similar US service
A supermarket chain in the United Kingdom is going to provide its customers a 3D printing service as part of a trial. Asda, a chain owned by Walmart, will start scanning objects and people at one of its stores for later printing, with a view to being the first in the country to provide in-store 3D printing nationwide, alongside its existing printing services.
Discount expires November 2nd
(Updated with Walmart discount) Following in the wake of a similar Best Buy promotion, RadioShack has announced plans of its own to cut $50 off the price of an iPhone 5c. Beginning October 5th and running through November 2nd, retail buyers will be able to get a free $50 gift card, which can be applied immediately to the cost of the device. Prices can be lowered further by trading in an old smartphone in good condition.
iPhone 5c to cost $79 through Target, excluding REDcard scheme
Target will be price-matching Walmart for the 16GB iPhone 5c at the smartphone's launch tomorrow. Walmart's already-discounted price of $79 for the iPhone 5c, when bought with a two-year contract, will be equaled by Target. Participants of Target's REDcard scheme will be able to get an extra 5-percent off, making the iPhone 5c cost $75.05.
Preorders must be made at Walmart retail stores
Walmart will be selling both the iPhone 5s and 5c at a discount from day one, the US retailer has announced. The 16GB 5c will sell for $79 on a two-year contract, whereas the 5s will be $189. Normally the phones would be $99 and $199.
Retailer likely hoping to capitalize on iPhone 5S, 5C launches
Discount retailer Walmart has announced a new smartphone trade-in program. Beginning on September 21st, participants will be able to get $300 towards the purchase of a new phone. That money is only available as credit towards the new device, however, and there is no opportunity to lock in a quote, as some dedicated resale companies allow.
Retail giant cuts iPhone 5 price by a third
Beginning Saturday, retail giant Walmart will start offering Apple's iPhone 5 for roughly a third lower than its previous price point. The retailer will be offering Apple's newest handset for just $129, down from $189. The iPhone 4S will also see a discount, going from $89 to just $39.
Rollout of new venues to take place over the summer
An official Google blog post has noted the expansion of Chromebook netbook sales to additional venues in the US and in Europe. Starting today, Walmart will be selling the Acer Chromebook, and starting this weekend, Staples will be carrying an assortment of makes and models from three different manufacturers.
Walmart to be exclusive retailer, selling W1 as prepaid smartphone
Huawei will be putting its first Windows Phone 8 device on sale in the United States as a prepaid device in the near future. The Huawei Ascend W1, renamed the Huawei W1 for the US market, will be made available in Walmart stores and Walmart.com later this month, and retains the same specifications and feature set that Electronista saw at Mobile World Congress in February.
Facebook makes first appearance on list
Business magazine Fortune has released the 2013 edition of its list of the 500 biggest corporations in the US. One of the most significant shifts in the list is the ascendancy of Apple, which has jumped from 17th place to sixth, breaking into the top 10 for the first time. Fortune comments that while the company has "maintained more than disrupted" its product line, and even had to apologize for iOS 6 Maps and its Chinese warranty services, it "remains an innovation icon."
Walmart iPad mini drops to $299
US retailers Best Buy and Walmart have begun new online sales on iPads. The former is selling third-generation iPads at up to 30 percent off, for instance putting a 32GB Wi-Fi model at $384, $165 off retail. A 16GB 4G iPad, meanwhile, is going for $406.
Android support planned
Walmart will expand its Scan & Go iPhone checkout system to over 200 stores by the end of the coming year, says Reuters. The program started near Walmart's home office in Bentonville, Arkansas, and is currently in about 70 stores so far. For the foreseeable future Scan & Go will remain iPhone-only, but Walmart spokespeople say that Android support is coming in the near future.
Companies can require addresses, phone numbers in California
Apple and other online retailers aren't breaking state law by requiring people to submit their address and phone number when making credit card payments, the California Supreme Court has ruled. The decision at least temporarily ends a proposed class action brought by David Krescent, who charged that Apple should not be able to require the extra information for iTunes purchases. Reuters reports that eBay and Walmart submitted briefs in support of Apple.
Plans begin at $45 per month with $25 per month financing
Walmart will add the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 to no-contract Straight Talk unlimited plans, with no carrier subsidy, starting on January 11, the company says. More than 2,000 Walmart stores and the online corporate site will sell the iPhone 5 for $649 (16GB model only) and the iPhone 4 for $449 (8GB model only). Qualified buyers will be able to get a Walmart Credit Card that allows for the phone cost to be billed in $25 monthly increments.
Best Buy singles out iPhone 5 sale
A number of retailers, including Best Buy and Toys R Us, have complained to attorney generals in several states about Walmart advertising practices, the Wall Street Journal reports. The complaints generally argue that Walmart is using inaccurate pricing or non-equivalent products to lay claim to the lowest prices. Best Buy, though, has specifically singled out problems with a Walmart iPhone 5 sale.
iPhone 5 price drops to $127
[Update: the sale iPad is a third-gen model, not fourth-gen] Starting today, Walmart is launching a sale on several Apple products in the US. The retailer is dropping the price of a 16GB, third-generation Wi-Fi iPad down to $399 -- the same price as the iPad 2 -- and beginning Monday, also bundling in a $30 iTunes card. The third-generation iPad was discontinued when the latest model was introduced in October, just eight months after the third-generation's debut.
Online sales on Thanksgiving also increased
Black Friday e-commerce spending by US shoppers has passed the $1 billion milestone for the first time. The amount of online retail activity for Friday, November 23rd has been called the "heaviest online spending day to date in 2012," with sales increasing 26 percent compared to Black Friday last year.
Walmart and T-Mobile team offer Halo promotion to PAYG customers
In conjunction with Microsoft's Halo 4 launch on the Xbox 360, Walmart and T-Mobile are offering fans of the game an exclusive promotional offer. Between November 6 and December 31, customers who purchase a T-Mobile pay-as-you-go unlimited talk and text plan valued at $30 per month or more will receive an exclusive in-game Halo 4 Spartan emblem. The T-Mobile Walmart portal has more information on the promotion.
Nintendo launches Wii U Sampling Tour across US retailers
The Nintendo Wii U won't become available for sale in the US until November 18, but potentially interested buyers can try the system out starting November 5. Nearly 5,000 demonstration booths will be set up across US retailers that include Best Buy, GameStop, Target, Walmart, and Toys 'R' Us. They will either let shoppers play one of the launch titles or offer a video presentation of the console's features.
Holiday promotion of Boxee TV promises 3-month cloud DVR trial
As expected, the Boxee TV is now available for purchase at Walmart. The big box store chain is the only retail location to purchase the device, with online purchasing at Boxee's site the other option. The $98 piece of hardware includes a digital antenna, and word is buyers will get a three-month trial period to the No Limits DVR service.
Walmart now offering Go Big and Go Bigger hotspot data plans from TruConnect
TruConnect, which is an MVNO that piggybacks on Sprint's network, has introduced two new Internet on the Go plans on Thursday that rely on a mobile hotspot. The Go Big and Go Bigger plans will be available to purchase only through Walmart stores. Neither requires a contract but they differ mainly in when the data allotment expires.
Boxee TV due in 3,000 Walmart stores tomorrow for $98
Walmart will begin stocking the Boxee TV at 3,000 of its locations across the US starting on November 1, the two revealed. The device will sell for $98 and Walmart will set up displays just for the device along with dedicated marketing materials. Other than streaming Netflix and YouTube content, the device can also pick up free over the air content in HD.
Full boxed copy on sale, not as pre-order
Walmart is selling Windows 8 over the counter 11 days too early. The retailer has been spotted putting boxed copies of Windows 8 Pro on its shelves ahead of the official October 26th street date, with employees claiming the operating system was available to purchase, though the store was not promoting them.
Parties blame low shipments from Apple
Best Buy, Walmart, and Sam's Club are delaying sales of iPhone 5 preorders to some customers, MacRumors notes. One person says that they received an email from Best Buy warning him that he wouldn't have his phone today, and that it might take up to 28 days before it's in stock. The person claims moreover that he was the first person to preorder a black 64GB model at his location, and that all of his friends got the same email.
E-retailer's Kindle Fire cuts in on Walmart's turf
After exhausting its current inventory of Amazon products, Walmart will no longer carry Amazon's Kindle tablets and e-readers. This according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters, as well as confirmation from a source familiar with Walmart's operations. The decision, making Walmart the second major retail chain to stop carrying Kindle products, is said to be an attempt on Walmart's part to curb competition from Amazon's e-retail unit.
Buyers may have to wait until September 15th
New information on Walmart's iPhone 5 preorder plans has emerged, 9to5Mac reports. Leaked documents show that while the company originally advertised preorders starting at 8AM local time today, that timing has been pushed up until whenever each store gets the necessary reservation cards delivered. Each card costs $25, which counts toward the purchase price of an iPhone.
Joins rush to clear out phones ahead of September announcement
Walmart has announced that beginning today, it's dropping the price of the 16GB iPhone 4S to $148 at some of its US stores. The cut is $40 off Walmart's normal price, and applies to contract phones for all three national carriers: AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Walmart hasn't produced a list of the participating stores, and is instead asking shoppers to check with local outlets.
Discounts apply on store-to-store basis
(Updated with Walmart statement) The reported Walmart discounts on iPhones aren't in effect across the entire Walmart chain, reports observe. The Verge notes that it managed to find a Walmart in Austin with the same bargain, but four other US outlets had regular prices. 9to5Mac says it called 17 Walmarts around the US, none of which were offering discounts. Separate of these, though, one out of two Austin Walmarts was offering the deal, as well as one out of two stores in Edmond, though the Frontage Road location said the iPhone 4S was "$114 this morning, for a little while."
Retail outlets to see more space dedicated to Apple
Apple is likely to increase its footprint outside of its existing Apple Stores, according to analysts at Piper Jaffray. The iPhone and iPad maker is looking to expand on pilot projects that have seen Apple "store-within-a-store" (SWAS) popping up in select Walmart and Target stores. Taken nationally, such a move would tremendously expand Apple's retail reach, as the two big box retailers have significantly more rural distribution than does Apple.
Wikipad Android tablet gets Gaikai's web gaming
Streaming game service Gaikai, which teamed up with Walmart last year on browser-based game demos, is back in the news. This time around, it has partnered with electronics manufacturer Wikipad to bring its games to an Android-based tablet. The tablet has grown to include a 10.1-inch screen rather than the 8.1-inch version when it was shown off at CES.
New prepaid plan, 4G hotspot due on May 1
Verizon Wireless has added new tiers to its phone and data prepaid offerings starting on May 1. A new $80 smartphone plan includes unlimited talk and text messaging while allotting 1GB of data use per month. At the same time, the carrier will ship the Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L with prepaid mobile packages.
Walmart to carry four U Prepaid phones
Regional wireless providers US Cellular and Alltel have teamed up with Walmart on an upcoming launch of a new no-contract service. Called U Prepaid, it will be available in nearly 500 Walmart stores in 18 states. The service will focus on offering simple and easy-to-understand service plans.
Vudu could go international in 2012
Vudu's streaming movie and TV service could leave the US for the first time, according to apparent leaks emerging later on Thursday. The strategy passed on to Variety from unnamed sources would have Vudu available in Mexico by June, followed by sweeping coverage in South America. Asia and Europe would be part of the expansion further into 2012, although it's unknown if Canada would join in.
May foreshadow future chain expansion
Walmart is beginning to deploy a new Apple store-within-in-a-store concept in its outlets, ifoAppleStore reports. One early example is an outlet in Lowell, Arkansas, which now has an Apple section with wooden tables that have products like iPads locked in display cases underneath. More conspicuous though are large, backlit, double-sided displays above the tables, something not normally seen in other retail chains' Apple sections.
Roku media hub arrives with slight premium
Roku on Monday kicked off its Canadian launch. The country will get two higher-end models in the lineup, the Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 XS, both of which can handle 1080p video; the XS bundles in the Wii-like motion remote and includes both Ethernet and USB for wired access and local content. Canadians get much of the same content, including Netflix, Rdio music, and major sports like the MLB and NHL, although US-specific services like Hulu Plus are out of contention.
D-Link adds MovieNite media hub
D-Link threw itself into low-cost media hubs Tuesday with the MovieNite. Borrowing from the design cues of the Apple TV and Roku 2, the device at $60 is one of the least expensive capable of 1080p video. Its primary sources are Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube for video as well as Pandora for streaming music and Picasa for photos.