Target (NYSE: TGT ) is throwing down the gauntlet in the war against e-tail.
The cheap-chic retailer will stop selling the Kindle this month.
Target's statement -- as retold through The Verge -- is brazen:
Target continually evaluates its product assortment to deliver the best quality and prices for our guests. Target is phasing out Kindles and Amazon- and Kindle-branded products in the spring of 2012. We will continue to offer our guests a full assortment of ereaders and supporting accessories including the Nook.
Barnes & Noble's (NYSE: BKS ) Nook isn't cheaper than Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) Kindle, and they're both quality devices. Why would Target stop selling the market leader?
Oh, right. Target is tired of subsidizing Amazon's global domination. Why sell consumers a device that will send them off to Amazon's ecosystem the next time that they need to buy books, CDs, or DVDs? This is war between the bricks and the brick-nots. Why send enforcements and ammo to the enemy?
This naturally leads us to Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) .
If Target is reportedly planning to stop replenishing its Kindles after Mother's Day, why should Best Buy keep birthing these demon babies? Amazon's success may or may not have come at Target's expense, but it's clear that the past year of sluggish sales and cascading profitability at Best Buy is largely Amazon's handiwork.
One can argue that booting Kindle gadgetry from its real-world stores would simply speed up the online migration, but what does it have to lose at this point?
Booting the Kindle -- hot off the heels of Target's eviction -- would send a strong message. It may also lead some consumers to wrongfully believe that the Kindle is a flop.
Target and Best Buy were two of the first physical retailers to validate the Kindle by stocking the e-reader. Why can't they be the tastemakers trying to sway consumers to go with rival ecosystems that aren't directly funding their demise?
It's a delicate balance, of course. Target isn't known for its consumer electronics. It's no big deal if it only sells the country's second most popular e-reader. Best Buy has more to lose. Then again, given the company's problematic state, does it really have anything to lose by making a tactical move that would embarrass its fiercest competitor?
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