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Target will stop selling Amazon Kindle devices

Is Target now seeing Amazon as an enemy rather than a partner?

By Husna Haq / May 3, 2012

Amazon was previously in charge of Target's website before the relationship between the two companies ended amid a legal battle.

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Yet again, Amazon has found itself at the center of a retailing dispute.

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Target Corporation announced Wednesday it will stop selling Amazon’s Kindle devices, the latest in a series of brawls between the two companies.

Target will cease sales of all Kindle e-reader and tablet devices, including the new Kindle Fire tablet, as well as all accessories for the devices like covers and chargers. The retailer will continue to sell other e-readers and tablets, however, including Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iPad.

"Target is phasing out Amazon- and Kindle-branded products in the spring of 2012," Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder wrote in an email to Reuters. "We will continue to offer our guests a full assortment of e-readers and supporting accessories."

There are a few potential reasons for Target’s decision. As Reuters noted, Amazon ran Target’s website for several years, but that relationship ended last year amid a legal battle.

“That’s probably something Target now regrets. It put them behind in the world of multi-channel retail and let a serious competitor learn a lot about their business,” Matt Nemer, an analyst at Wells Fargo, told Reuters. “This is evidence that Target is getting more serious about Amazon as an enemy rather than a partner.”

After all, everything sold in Target is also offered by Amazon, Reuters noted. “Target is trying to distance themselves from Amazon as much as possible because they recognize they are losing sales to them,” Scott Tilghman, an analyst at Caris & Co. told Reuters.

Amazon’s practice of undercutting the prices of traditional retailers certainly can’t help their case, either.

The other potential reason Target may have dropped the Kindle line has everyone talking. Target carries Apple products. Apple competes with Amazon. Might Target be dropping Amazon’s Kindle line to appease Apple? (Although the iPad and the Kindle aren’t direct competitors, they do compete in terms of e-books.)

“If Target did make the decision in an effort to mollify Apple, that would be sort of a retro-chic move in an era when big retailers tend to dictate terms to manufacturers rather than the other way around,” writes CNN Money. “There aren’t many manufacturers with market power like Apple’s however.”

Another Apple-Amazon war, by proxy?

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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