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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) May Be Google Inc (GOOG)’s Secret Weapon

The PC may be dying, but good luck convincing Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) that the laptop is on the way out.

The world’s leading search provider announced yesterday that the number of stores stocking Chromebook notebooks will triple this week. Between Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) beginning to sell the $199 Acer Chromebook yesterday and Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) carrying Chromebooks from three different manufacturers later this week, it’s going to be hard to avoid the line’s retail presence.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)

Chromebook’s presence in 2,800 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) superstores and 1,500 Staples office supply stores will triple the notebook’s availability to 6,600 physical stores.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) aren’t necessarily worried about laptops running Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s web-heavy Chrome operating system.

Microsoft feels as if user familiarity and access to Office and countless other Windows games and software applications make its laptops more than worth the premium. Apple is even higher along on the prestige ladder, but that didn’t stop Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) from putting out the $1,299 Chromebook Pixel netbook earlier this year that clearly targeted Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple taking a nonchalant attitude is paying off for now. Chromebooks have yet to make any serious dent in the market. The bad news for Microsoft and Apple is that the pie itself is shrinking.

Back in April, industry tracker IDC reported that the number of PCs shipped during this year’s first quarter plunged 13.9% to 76.3 million from the prior year.

When your back’s to the Wal-Mart
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) clearly thinks it has a shot at making a difference at the retail level.

The Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) deal may generate some buzz as the country’s leader in office supplies. Staples is stocking Chromebooks months ahead of its two nearest rivals, and once all three chains are carrying the laptops, it’s going to make things interesting for corporate America. The uniform presence will validate the platform, especially for businesses that are flocking to more and more cloud-based solutions.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)However, the big deal here really is Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT). The world’s largest retailer doesn’t stock new $199 laptops. The cheapest new laptop, netbook, or ultrabook on starts at $249. Chromebook is going to stand out when someone comes in looking for the cheapest way to get online.

Shoppers don’t go to Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) to talk up the greeter or embrace the minimalist architecture of exposed beams. They’re there to save money, and that’s going to make Acer’s $199 Chromebook the belle of the bargain-priced ball.

If Chromebook can’t make it there, it won’t be making it anywhere.

The article Wal-Mart May Be Google’s Secret Weapon originally appeared on and is written by Rick Munarriz.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). It also owns shares of Microsoft and Staples.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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