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Apple iPad lands at Walmart on Friday

Apple may have had trouble making enough iPads to meet demand when the tablet devices first debuted, but now the iPad is taking another step towards retail market saturation: the Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that retail giant Walmart will start selling the iPad beginning this Friday at selected retail locations, with availability spreading to more than 2,300 Walmart locations in time for the end-of-year holiday buying season.

A distribution deal with Walmart adds significantly to the iPad’s retail availability over the holidays: the device is now on sale via Amazon.com, and recently appeared at discount retailer target. The iPad has been on sale at electronics retailer Best Buy since its launch earlier this year.

Walmart is known for bringing products to customers at discounted prices, but it looks like its pricing on the iPad is going to match pricing available from Apple and it’s other retail partners: the Wi-Fi, 16 GB model will be available for $499. So far, only Target has been able to set up a discount, with owners of Target credit cards being able to get a 5 percent discount on an iPad. Walmart will be offering the iPad through its site-to-store service, however, which offers free shipping of online orders sent to a local Walmart store for pickup.

Apple’s ability to move the iPad into major retail channels this holiday season may be key to the device maintaining its lead current in the tablet computing arena. A slew of Android tablets—debatably led by the Samsung Galaxy Tab (see DT’s hands-on video)—are getting ready to land at retailers.