Amazon.com has announced its Kindle ereader will soon be available in more than 3,200 Walmart retail stores in the United States, significantly expanding the retail availability of the company’s popular ereader. Although the Kindle has been available from Target, Best Buy, Staples, and other retailers for some time, the move into Walmart should substantially expand the Kindle’s retail footprint—and enable it to compete side-by-side with ereaders from Barnes & Noble and Kobo, which went into Walmart stores ahead of the 2010 end-of-year holiday buying season.
Walmart stores will be carrying the Kindle 3G and Kindle with Special Offers, which makes special offers available to customers directly on the Kindle, such as discounted Amazon gift cards. Walmart will not be offering the larger Kindle DX.
Amazon’s decision to expand the number of retail locations offering the Kindle may be a smart move for the company competitively. Where ereader makers like Barnes & Noble and Sony have significant retail operations where companies can set hands on their products and see if they like them, Amazon’s online-only approach doesn’t give customers a good feel for the Kindle—no number of 3D rotating views of the device or customer testimonials are going to give customers the same kind of experience as holding a Kindle in their hands. Even in the age of the Internet, retail storefronts still carry considerable value: Apple has ridden its retail stores to the height of the tech industry.
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