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Wal-Mart iPhone a done deal?

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It's now a virtual certainty that you'll soon be able to pick up an iPhone 3G at America's biggest retailer.

According to stories published today by the San Jose Mercury News and Bloomberg, Wal-Mart employees have confirmed that the iPhone will soon join smartphones from RIM, Samsung, Pantech, Palm, and others on the shelves of the American mega-mart.

It seems that Apple's tight control on product-news leaks is holding only among top Apple, Wal-Mart, and AT&T spokesfolks. Although Bloomberg was unable to get confirmation of the Wal-Mart deal from any of those three company's official channels, they were able to get five employees at different Wal-Mart locations to squeal.

According to those five intrepid leakers - each of whom declined to give their name - the iPhone may be available as early as next Monday or as late as December 28. We're betting on the later date, if only because Apple will want to keep as many Christmas-gift sales to themselves as possible.

The Wal-Mart sales associates also said that although employees are undergoing training on iPhone sales details as we speak, word has not yet come down as to whether the rumored $99 4GB model will be in the product mix - although The Reg agrees with Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu, who said last Friday that "A $99, Apple-branded cell phone is inevitable."

Remember: When the previous top-of-the-cool-crop Motorola RAZR was introduced back in 2004, it cost a not-so-cool $500. ®

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