Friday, September 21, 2012

Retailers decide to stop slitting own throats

Wal-Mart has announced that it will stop selling the second hottest tablet line, Amazon’s Kindle. In doing so, it joins Target in ending support for its online rival.

Revenues aside, the support for the Kindle seemed puzzling by both retailing giants. Now that they have settled into a comfortable duopoly, the greatest threat they face comes from Amazon‘s continuing successes in moving people out of stores to their web browsers. This calls to mind a Marxist critique (source unknown) that rich countries in their greed will finance their own downfall.

Both Wal-Mart and Target continue to sell the world’s leading tablet, the iPad, from a company that’s an also-ran in online content (except for music). They also sell Barnes and Noble’s Nook line, which is promoted by the leading book retailer but is an also-ran both in hardware and proprietary content.

This raises the question: when or how will the coalition of willing anti-Amazonians be formed? Apple and Wal-Mart are losing the online content battle (which Target has ignored), so is there a possibility for a shared platform, content format standard or other deeper cooperation? Otherwise, it’s hard to see how the tide will be reversed that has favored Seattle’s online shopping conglomerate.

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