While it was just a rumor last week, Walmart has officially announced that beginning Friday you will be able to purchase Apple’s iPad tablet at several hundred of its stores, as well through its online site.  As we expected, however, don’t expect to “save money” by going through the largest retailer in the world.

iPad at WalmartBeginning this Friday you will be able to purchase all six versions of Apple’s popular iPad tablet at the Walmart discount chain.  While it will only be in a few hundred stores this week, the retailer expects to ramp it up to 2,300 locations before the all important holiday shopping season.  If you’re eager to get one before your local store has them, or you live near one of the stores that won’t stock them, you will be able to go to the company’s online store to purchase one and have it delivered to your store location for free using its “Site-to-Store” free shipping service.

While the retailer will carry all six versions (three Wi-Fi only and three 3G versions), the company will be selling them at the suggest Apple retail price as opposed to the discounting that the chain is so well known for.  The device will be housed in an interactive display in the electronics section of the store locations, near where the iPods are already displayed.  Apparently the device in the case will play videos demonstrating all of the various features of the device.

According to The Wall Street Journal, due to the devices now being sold at Best Buy, Target and Walmart, analysts are expecting Apple to sell 11 to 12 million units of the tablet this year.

Of course some naysayers will say this is just in time for Apple to announce the second generation iPad in the first quarter of 2011, and we would have to agree with them.  Apple tends to work on a one year product cycle, and with the first iPads having launched in early April of this year, that says we should hear an announcement not long after the the holiday shopping season.

No matter how you slice it, Apple should have a good holiday season, and one has to wonder if we will look back at the recent $20 billion dollar quarter and refer to it as “quaint”.

What say you?  Will Walmart sell a ton of iPads?