The country's largest retailer will shortly begin stocking the country's hottest holiday gadget.

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) will begin selling Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad this weekend, according to The Wall Street Journal. Hundreds of the discounter's superstores will begin offering the tablet on Friday, with most of its stores set to carry the iPad in time for the crucial holiday shopping season.

Wal-Mart isn't the first third-party retailer to begin selling the touchscreen device. Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) and Target (NYSE: TGT) are already selling the iPad.

Apple isn't taking any chances, especially with PC giants readying their tablets and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) set to launch its PlayBook early next year. Apple needed little help beyond AT&T (NYSE: T) and Best Buy to get its iPhone off the ground initially, but the tablet market is about to heat up.

Apple has several advantages over the competition, including its first-mover status, killer brand, and gargantuan app store library. However, if the anecdotes about tablet computers eating into netbooks and entry-level laptops are accurate, Apple is making the right call by targeting the country's two largest discount department store chains,  Wal-Mart and Target. Apple has a chance to corner the market before Android, Palm, and Windows tablets begin raising doubts in the minds of potential iPad tablet buyers. It can't afford to squander this holiday season, even if it's already selling a million or so units every month.

Wal-Mart won't be discounting the iPad the way it does with other products. It also won't be offering home-based delivery through its website, leaving that to Apple's namesake site.

The time to strike is now -- and no company can do more to target mainstream America than to ensure that Wal-Mart stocks its wares.

Is it smart or stupid for Apple to offer its iPad through Wal-Mart? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Best Buy and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Apple and Best Buy are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Best Buy. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is starting to see more Apple products creep into his home lately. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.