Walmart has agreed to pay $27.5 million in damages to more than 25 million Netflix customers who subscribed to the service between May 19th, 2005 and September 2nd, 2011, as part of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit. Litigation was levied against the nationwide retailer after Walmart ditched efforts to run a DVD-by-mail business that would compete directly with Netflix. Reportedly, Walmart agreed to bail on its plans provided that Netflix pointed its customers to Walmart to purchase DVDs. Walmart has not admitted any wrongdoing and Netflix plans to continue fighting the charges during a January 23rd trial. While a tentative approval of the agreement was already granted by a judge in September, the final ruling will come during a court appearance scheduled for March 14th. Netflix members will receive payment in Walmart gift cards and cash. As MercuryNews points out, $6.9 million, or 25%, may be paid to Netflix’s lawyers while another $1.7 million will be paid out to cover legal fees. In that case, 25 million Netflix customers would have to divvy up the remaining $19 million, which means members would receive less than $1 each in damages on average. More →
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made this past Friday, RadioShack stated that it will be losing more than 400 kiosks located in Sam’s Club stores across the country. The closures will result from an expiring contract between RadioShack and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., owner of the Sam’s Club chain. Sam’s Club will take over the operation of the kiosks by June 30th, when the contract is set to expire. RadioShack currently sells cell phones and service contracts through the aforementioned kiosks, and it represents a decent chunk of business for the retailer — through the first nine months of 2010, RadioShack reported $20.6 million in profits from its kiosk business. RadioShack plans to increase the number of Target kiosks it operates in an effort to curtail losses, but the company estimates that its kiosk profits will still decline by between $10 million and $15 million in 2011.
It’s not exactly a mystery that Microsoft’s upcoming Kinect sensor is highly anticipated — Kinect is expected to be the hottest gaming accessory to launch ahead of the holidays this year. Interested gamers (and friends or relatives of interested gamers) might want to scoop one up as early as possible because demand is already quite high. Business Insider reports that pre-orders for the Microsoft Kinect standalone sensor are already sold out at both Best Buy and Amazon.com. Console bundles are still available at both locations, but that won’t help the millions of gamers out there who already own Xbox 360 consoles. Playing the waiting game until Kinect becomes available at brick and mortar stores is always a gamble, so those looking to be prepared should head over to the GameStop website or Walmart’s website where pre-orders for the Kinect sensor are still available… for now. More →
Today, Walmart announced that it would be launching a self-branded wireless service titled Walmart Family Mobile. The new wireless service will utilize T-Mobile USA’s GSM network and will offer unlimited calling and texting for $45 per month; additional unlimited lines can be added for $25. Data usage can be pre-purchased at the rate of $40 per gigabyte and unused megabytes roll over from month to month. The Motorola Cliq XT will be Family Mobile’s high-end offering at launch ($249) and the cheapest offering will be a $30 set from Nokia. Walmart also sells pre-paid wireless options from Verizon Wireless (Straight Talk) and Sprint Nextel (Common Cents). The service will launch next week in Walmart retail stores across the country. More →
Many of you have been on the edge of your seats and sofas waiting for anxiously for the BlackBerry 9700 to drop. We already know it’s being released on November 16 on T-Mobile, but now you have a killer incentive to pick one up from Walmart. From November 14th to the 20th, Walmart is offering a $100 Walmart gift card with a new BlackBerry purchase — the only thing is it takes four to six weeks to get that card in the mail. It’s not exactly the same as getting a new BlackBerry 9700 for $99.99, but it’s as close as you’re going to get for now. And just imagine what you can get at good old Wally World with a $100 gift card just before the holidays. The usual bells and whistles apply with the two-year contract business, but that comes with the territory. Is it safe to assume that T-Mobile corporate stores will be hearing crickets on launch day? Who are we kidding… this is probably the most anticipated device for T-Mobile in years.
Thanks, Kara R.! More →
After Mr. Epstein attended the RIM event on Tuesday for the BlackBerry Curve 8520, I promptly snatched the review unit he received out of his hands when he got back to the office. Let’s not beat around the bush: a BlackBerry is going to either me or Michael and I was closest. It’s not the first time we’ve been fondling the BlackBerry 8520 but hey, we won’t complain. Available as of yesterday, the Curve 8520 throws the Curve lineup forward with a speedier processor, improved keyboard, more memory, new trackpad navigation system and other tweaks and additions like dedicated music keys. One thing we can’t for the life of us understand, though, is T-Mobile’s pricing. At $49.99 with a two-year this would have absolutely killed on T-Mobile’s network, but $130? Isn’t the BlackBerry Curve 8900 $199? Ok, T-Mobile’s lost it as the Curve 8900 is $149.99 on a two-year. Seriously? While this is still one of the most usable and solid low-to-mid-end handsets we’ve ever picked up, it’s no where near Curve 8900 territory (obviously on purpose by RIM). Our guess is within a month you’ll see this at around $99 or even lower on T-Mobile, but that’s just us.
Back to the hardware… if you’ve been holding off on a BlackBerry for a while due to cost reasons or maybe you just always get your phone lost or dinged up, we have no problem recommending the BlackBerry Curve 8520. It’s a real solid piece of hardware — it’s a BlackBerry after all — it’s just as fast as the high-end BlackBerry devices out there, it’s pocketable, and functional. Want to see some photos? Hit the jump!
Not to get too in-ya-face about it, but man… we knocked this crap out the park. One of our ninjas hit us up last night and gave us the heads up on this information. As predicted, Palm has just gone ahead and announced the Palm Pre release date and pricing information for the device’s debut on Sprint. It’s $199.99 after a $100 MIR on a 2-year agreement (copying Apple, much?) and will indeed be released on Saturday June 6th online and in Sprint stores in addition to Best Buy, Radio Shack and Wal-Mart. Oh, and in case you’re dying to blow some cash on some Pre accessories, the Touchstone Charging Kit goes on sale the same day for $69.99 and will comes with the Touchstone charging dock and battery cover. A bit steep, but it’s not like we expected it to be anything but.
Happy? Irate? Holding out for the Tour? We wanna know.
Despite the contrary wisdom of the current economic crisis, Microsoft appears to be moving ahead with plans to open a series of retail stores. The company has hired a former Wal-Mart corporate hound as their corporate VP of retail stores, which probably doesn’t bode well for anyone expecting an intimate, customer-focused retail experience ala your local neighborhood Apple store. Little has been set in stone, but the company is currently scouting out retail locations and attempting to codify its retail strategy, hoping to “improve the PC buying experience”. There’s no word on whether the stores themselves will be solely focused on PC retail, or if they’ll also allow shoppers to purchase various other Microsoft-themed products, including Zunes and XBoxs, though we can’t imagine Microsoft would pass up an opportunity to peddle their full range of wares. The time frame for opening the babies up is still unknown, but in typical Microsoft fashion, we wouldn’t expect much to happen for quite a while, giving us enough time to mentally and physically prepare for the Wal-Mart of computer buying experiences.
Yesterday we broke the news of a massive AT&T network outage that came at one of the worst possible times – right smack in the middle of Wal-Mart’s iPhone 3G launch. Users from various regions throughout the eastern United States were reporting communication interruptions ranging from dropped calls to the complete inability to send/receive any voice or data. According to a later report from Chicago’s Sun Times, the cause of the massive network trauma was a power outage originating in Bloomfield, Michigan. The explanation seems a bit curious however, as some users in affected areas were reporting that their service was working fine – the Sun Times even quoted a couple as saying that while driving together in the same car, the husband’s phone was completely dead while the wife had no service problems at all.
While the bulk of comments were from areas that would certainly be affected such as Michigan, Wisconsin Illinois and the surrounding areas, we also received plenty of reports from up and down the east coast. AT&T customers from as far north as Rochester, NY to as far south as Florida were commenting and sending emails about their inability to make data and/or voice connections. A spokeswoman from AT&T later stated that “virtually all service traffic” was back up and running around 9:00 pm local time, yet we were still getting reports of network troubles well beyond midnight. Whatever the case may be however, AT&T seems to be back in business this morning as reports of connection issues have slowed to a halt.
Oops. Murphy’s Law may be in full swing today for the country’s largest GSM carrier at the worst-possible time – iPhone 3G / Wal-Mart launch day. We’ve yet to have any issues in the New York area but emails are hitting us en masse from AT&T customers reporting network outages across the east coast and beyond. Most reports recount difficulties with connecting via AT&T’s 3G network but some go further to detail voicemail difficulties, BlackBerry service outages and even complete network outages spanning hours at a time. This is obviously a pretty big deal for Wal-Mart locations in affected areas – imagine switching from your current carrier to snag a shiny new iPhone 3G and stepping out of the store only to find that your new toy won’t make a voice or data connection. Yikes. We spoke to AT&T after hours customer service and after about 30 minutes on hold, they did confirm “reports of network troubles” but couldn’t (or wouldn’t) specify which regions might be affected or whether or not these issues had been resolved. Time to sound off, BGR readers – any problems in your area?
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!
Wal-Mart, the nationwide mega-retailer known for low prices and lower employee relations, finally confirmed this past Friday that it would be offering the iPhone 3G for sale beginning today. As promised, locations around the country started setting up new displays last night and low and behold, the iPhone 3G is ready to rumble as of this morning. This brings us to the end of a long and winding road recounted in this post, and as we’ve said before, positions Apple’s next handset perfectly. Many hardcore Apple’s fanboys shed a tear upon hearing the news however, despite the fact that Apple has gained a massive new retail channel, as the handset’s presence at Wal-Mart effectively erases any semblance of exclusivity that came along with owning an iPhone. Sure it’s already one of the best-selling handsets in the country, but this is viewed by some as the last nail in the coffin as far as the odd misconception that owning an iPhone is a status symbol is concerned. Whatever the case, 2,500 Wal-Marts and 69 Sam’s Clubs around the country are now stocked with iPhone 3G handsets ripe for the picking. So who’s headed to Wal-Mart today for some “discounted” iPhone 3G action?
Thanks for the image, Rob!
It took a while, but Wal-Mart has finally gotten around to confirming what we’ve all known for over a month now: the iPhone 3G will be sold at Wal-Mart beginning this Sunday. Thanks to the Wal-Mart deal, Apple now has a direct avenue into a host of new markets thanks to stock on its way to more than 2,500 Wal-Mart locations along with 69 Sam’s Club locations. It this big news? Of course it is – but the real news will surely come when Apple’s next handset announcements are made sometime in 2009. Will a $197 phone with a $30/month data plan sell in Wal-Mart? Sure it will, you can bank on it. A smaller, cheaper device however, will sell like hotcakes at Wal-Mart and once Apple announces it there will already be a killer sales channel in place as a result of this deal. Good show Apple; the US smartphone market is well on its way to being dominated by Apple just as it did with iTunes and the digital music market.
We’re now just over a week away from the culmination of an ongoing saga that has been the iPhone 3G’s dance over to Wal-Mart. Whew! For a bit of background in case you’ve been hiding from the economy in your basement for the past few months, BGR scooped it back in October, served it in November and then stirred it up a little in December. So far it’s looking like everything is falling right into place as a new letter emerges, essentially reaffirming everything we told you. This letter isn’t a mere redundancy however, as it provides the last pieces of the puzzle we hadn’t yet confirmed: size and price. Earlier this month we told you about a possible $99 iPhone that we were plenty skeptical about, and for the time being it’s a no-go. Wal-Mart will be selling the same 8GB and 16GB models everyone else has, for $197 and $297 respectively — a whopping $2 savings over competitors. Smooth move Apple; give Wal-Mart the ability to sell a discounted iPhone but keep other partners happy by making the discount insignificant. As for the possibility of a $99 iPhone, analysts might charge you an arm and a leg to tell you “it’s a distinct possibility” but it doesn’t take weeks of poring over blogs research and calculation to tell you it’ll be here sooner rather than later. But we digress. Hit the jump for a shot of the letter and get ready to get your iPhone 3G on, courtesy of the nation’s largest discount retailer, a week from Sunday.