Wal-Mart is trying to fill the space in consumers' shopping bags left empty by the disappearance of Circuit City. As part of that effort, the retail giant is stepping up its Blu-ray offering.
In the next few weeks, Wal-Mart will sell two Blu-ray players priced below $200, according to a post on the company's official CheckOutBlog.com. We know one will be a $198 Philips player, though the other sub-$200 player's brand name wasn't revealed.
Wal-Mart does offer one Magnavox Blu-ray player in its stores right now for $168. It should be noted that Funai manufactures electronics under the brand names of Philips, Magnavox, and Sylvania for the North American market, so the quality between those brand names won't really vary. And even though getting below $200 is important, the features won't be the same as a player you could get for just $50 more. They'll likely be Blu-ray Profile 1.1, not the latest 2.0, and can't do multimedia streaming from services like Netflix and Pandora. See our CNET review of the range of current Blu-ray models across a variety of price points for more.
Besides more players, Wal-Mart is also selling more discs. The retailer's renewed Blu-ray push comes on the heels of its move past Amazon.com as the nation's No. 2 seller of Blu-ray discs. Best Buy leads with 40-50 percent market share of Blu-ray discs sold at retail, followed by Wal-Mart with 20-30 percent share, according to industry sources cited by Blu-ray.com. The data showed Wal-Mart leapfrogged Amazon.com, which now has 15-20 percent of Blu-ray sales.
Wal-Mart is currently in the process of instituting an electronics department makeover to be unveiled in each of its 3,500 stores over the next month. The retailer hopes more store displays will help it compete better with Best Buy in the fight over the space left by Circuit City's demise.