Target Dumps Kindle Devices (TGT, AMZN, AAPL, BKS, MSFT, GOOG)

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Retailing giant Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) will discontinue selling the Kindle family of tablets and e-readers by this summer. The Kindle devices are made by Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), and include the Kindle Fire tablet that competes directly with the iPad from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL).

The news comes just a few days after Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) announced a new joint venture with Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) to put more effort behind B&N’s Nook e-reader. The Kindle devices and the Nook use customized versions of the Android operating system from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG).

Reuters reported this morning that it received an email from a Target spokesperson announcing the company’s decision, but declining to say whether Target was developing closer ties with Apple or did not want to sell a device that enriched a major competitor like Amazon. Target has said it would continue to sell the Nook e-reader.

Apple plans to open mini-Apple Stores at 25 Target locations during the year, at terms that are reported to be quite favorable to Target. Perhaps Apple did a little arm-twisting, or more likely, Target saw which side of the bread had the most butter. Pushing Amazon’s Kindle would cut into its more profitable deal with Apple, and help one of Target’s bitterest rivals in the bargain. The Nook remains, presumably with other low-selling products, to give the impression of variety and choice that Target claims to offer to customers.

Target’s shares are down about -0.9% at $57.49 in a 52-week range of $45.28-$58.95. Amazon’s shares are up 0.3% at $230.82 in a 52-week range of $166.97-$246.71. Apple’s shares are up 0.4% at $584.30 in a 52-week range of $310.50-$644.00.

Paul Ausick