Walmart will no longer sell Amazon Kindle e-readers and tablets, according to a company memo obtained by Reuters. This marks the second big box store to halt sales of Amazon devices since the beginning of the year.
“We have recently made the business decision to not carry Amazon tablets and e-readers beyond our existing inventory and purchase commitments,” reads Walmart’s memo to store managers. “This includes all Amazon Kindle models current and recently announced.”
Walmart has confirmed the authenticity of the memo with Reuters. Amazon did not immediately respond to our request for comment, and has declined requests from other publications.
While the Kindle lineup is no longer available through Walmart or Sam’s Club stores, a broad range of other tablets and e-readers are still for sale. A quick search on Walmart.com shows offerings from Apple, Samsung, Acer, Asus, Barnes & Noble, and many others. A number of Kindle accessories, like covers and e-book lights, remain available.
Target became the first major retail chain to stop selling Amazon’s Kindle products back in May. Like Walmart, it continues to carry various accessories for Amazon’s products.
Early this month, Amazon unveiled a number of new Kindle devices, including the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, and the Kindle Fire HD tablet, which comes with either a 7-inch or 8.9-inch screen. The smaller Kindle Fire HD starts at $200, while the 8.9-inch version starts at $300, or $500 for the 4G LTE version.
Why did Walmart drop Amazon? One theory is that Amazon’s online retail business has simply become too strong a competitor for Walmart, and the company has simply decided to stop boosting a competitor’s bottom line.
Andy Hargreaves, an analyst with Pacific Crest, says he does’t “know the answer” for certain, but would bet on this theory.
“An educated guess… is that Walmart dropped the Kindle because Amazon is directly competitive across their entire business,” Hargreaves told Digital Trends. “In particular, the new Kindle Fire devices are designed specifically to drive traffic to the Amazon store, so Walmart was selling devices that were created specifically to take future sales away from them.”
Another theory is that Apple is to blame. When Target decided to break ties with Amazon, many speculated that Target sought to appease Apple, with whom it had recently partnered to launch a number of “mini Apple Stores” housed within Target retail outlets. It’s possible that a similar situation is happening with Walmart, which began testing the same mini Apple Stores at some locations back in April. Neither company has publicly admitted to a pro-Apple, anti-Amazon strategy.
The second question is: Does this really matter? Of course, it seems all but inevitable that the loss of Walmart will result in fewer Kindle products sold. That said, Amazon is a retail powerhouse in its own right, and it’s safe to assume that Amazon.com is a popular destination for those looking to pick up a Kindle device.
Regardless, if you’re looking to pick up a Kindle of any type, don’t bother making a detour from the kitchen accessories aisle at Walmart over the electronics department. You won’t find any there.