It’s been a month since the news broke, and I still haven’t been able to find a reasonable explanation for why Target stopped carrying the Amazon Kindle. The only thing anyone seems to be able to say about it is that they pulled it because of a “conflict of interest.”
One theory I keep seeing pop up in both blogs and professional journalism which makes no sense to me is that Target was essentially forced to “choose” between Amazon and Apple. If this is true, Target unquestionably made the right decision for two huge reasons:
1. Amazon is more of a direct competitor. It’s no secret that cheaper online sales are severely hurting the traditional retail industry. I always found the status of e-readers being sold in retail stores pretty unusual in the first place. Having stores like Target, Walmart, and Best Buy carry products made by Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble really seems counterintuitive to me.
2. Apple is a much bigger deal in the tech industry. Think about all those long lines for the new iPhone or the new iPad. When Apple releases a new product, it’s an event. And forget about finding them on the shelves around the holidays. Apple’s basically printing their own money at this point. Given the choice between carrying Amazon’s Kindle/Kindle Fire versus Apple’s iPad/iPod/iPhone/iWhatever, anyone who devotes more than five seconds thinking about it should probably be moved to a quiet corner of the company where they’ll never have to make any important decisions. Ever. (And this is coming from a very satisfied Kindle early adopter.)
That being said, I find the idea that Target was forced to choose between Amazon and Apple pretty far-fetched. Plenty of other retailers (including Target’s largest competitor, Walmart) carry Apple and Amazon products simultaneously. Unless we see these retailers being forced into similar choices, I doubt this is what happened, unless someone can convince me that there’s a sensible reason Target would’ve been singled out by these two competitors.
A final thought: the Kindle being sold in physical stores is, to me, really representative of how little sense the retail industry makes in its present form. The only things it makes a lot of sense to me to sell in stores are household products, clothes, and food. You don’t need to try on a book. Online shopping has clear advantages for technology and media. It’s generally cheaper and more convenient. The only thing keeping the retail industry alive in those areas is one of the most truly silly examples of technophobia I’ve ever seen: people “don’t trust” the internet with their credit card numbers.
That’s funny. Because do you know how retail stores like Target verify your credit card number? The internet.
Maybe retail makes no sense because people make no sense.