Three stories running around the Internets of late:
The first is a story regarding Walmart wanting to expand more into the banking industry through the use of the ‘industrial loan corporation’ provision. This would allow Walmart to process its own payments without going through costly regulatory oversight or 3rd parties. This in turn saves millions each year which thereby allows them to cut costs for other goods and services. Critics claim that in the event that Walmart goes belly up or has an otherwise poor year, the rest of the industry will feel its effects. They also suggest that the firm would eventually offer other banking services, thereupon “destroying” the local banks. See retorts here.
The next story ties into the last portion of the first, Walmart is now offering aid to rivals. Essentially, they are going to invest in local firms they directly compete with in addition to offering them educational and training material on how to survive when Walmart sets up shop. Plus they are going to give them free advertising inside their own stores. Due to outside forces, this is beginning to sound more like how tobacco companies were forced to fund advertising campaigns to promote kicking the habit and/or not starting in the first place.
Lastly, some geeks are going wild over allegations that the marketing arm of Walmart in part, decides what video games are ultimately going to be developed. In a nutshell, Walmart will only sell certain types of games that meet certain guidelines. Because they sell a large volume (i.e. have a huge potential market), publishers listen to what they want. In reality, this is no different than what many bookstores practice in terms of marketing adult material such as Playboy. Or video stores like Blockbuster not offering X-rated movies for rental. The list for omission is long and is not unique to a company such as Walmart (other “big-box’ stores like Target have their own guidelines for products as well).