Apple does not believe in discounts, and doesn't allow retailers to compete against each other by discounting its tablets and phones. This rule doesn't apply to Walmart, however.
Walmart is the 5,000 pound gorilla of the U.S. retail market, and is apparently the only company in this country capable of bending Apple to its will. So when the iPad Air goes on sale next Friday, Nov. 1, the 16GB, Wi-Fi-only version will cost $500 no matter where it's sold... except for Walmart stores.
The largest retailer in America has used its muscle to get a special deal that will allow it to sell the base version of Apple's latest full-size tablet for $480. While only 4% lower than everyone else is charging, it's still a unique accomplishment.
Global Juggernaut vs. U.S. Juggernaut
Apple founder Steve Jobs believed that retailers competing to see who could sell products at the lowest price cheapened the image of those products. That's why he created a policy that requires any retailer who wants to offer the iPhone or iPad to sell it at Apple's price. As a result, tablets and phones from Apple almost always sell at their launch prices even after they have been on the market for nearly a year.
Few companies have the power to go up against Apple, which recently was judged to have the most valuable brand in the world by Interbrand. Walmart doesn't even appear on Interbrand's list because it's not a global company, but it's nevertheless powerful enough in the U.S. to force a special deal from the iPad maker.