While in many minds the term Walmart has the connotation of low prices on "stuff" ranging from tires to baby clothing, some new research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) shows that the discount retailer is an increasingly important part of Apple's overall distribution efforts.
Business Insider notes that Tim Cook highlighted Walmart during the recent earnings call, saying that the company is "an increasingly more substantial partner in the iPad space... and an evolving partner on iPhone. And so we're working with them and enjoy working with them and hope to continue expanding."
How much of a partner is Walmart? The company sold 1.3 million iPads in the quarter ending March 30, 2012, which means that the company sells 11 percent of all iPads. The only bigger retailers are Apple itself (with a 26 percent share of sales) and Best Buy (24 percent).
While Walmart has the distribution channel to help Apple sell a lot of iPads, CIRP pointed out that this drives down the average selling price of the devices to that Walmart can make a "reasonable gross profit." In the long run, that may be a downside to Apple.