Wal-Mart and Apple will team to promote iPod shuffle

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Apple Computer has initiated a partnership with Wal-Mart that will soon see the iPod shuffle featured at Wal-Mart discount locations around the country, AppleInsider has learned.

According to sources close to the retail giant, Wal-Mart in April will begin receiving mass quantities of Apple\'s new iPod shuffle digital music player, which it will then make available in many, if not all, of its nearly 5000 locations.

The deal between the two companies will be capped by a feature in Wal-Mart\'s March tabular advertisement, sources say.

Typically speaking, a Wal-Mart feature calls for at least 50 units — in this case 25+ of each shuffle model — per hometown store, while metro area locations would require significantly larger quantities of the product.

Figuring conservatively, with 5000 stores each receiving approximately 50 units, the feature alone would demand a quarter million shuffles. \"That of course is in addition to regular sell through, and is a very conservative number,\" sources added.

Wal-Mart, which initially seemed willing to provide AppleInsider with specifics of the endeavor, abruptly recanted on its offer, citing confidentiality agreements with its suppliers.

The company also declined to say whether it would begin carrying Apple\'s new Mac mini computer. However, sources claim this is unlikely due to the mini\'s higher price point and lack of mainstream appeal.

Also on Friday, word broke that Best Buy had signed on to carry Apple\'s Mac mini in some of its retail stores. A report in The Mac Observer provides subsequent confirmation of the deal, adding that Best Buy will also begin marketing the 512MB iPod shuffle at over 780 of its stores.

In its investigation into the Wal-Mart deal, AppleInsider learned that the retailer had originally sought to launch its feature of the iPod shuffle a little later in the year. Apple reportedly told Wal-Mart it would be unable to guarantee sufficient quantity for all its stores at this later date, suggesting it may have already committed to similar deals with other large retailers within the same time frame.