Discount retailer Costco has confirmed plans to remove all Apple-related products from its stores, effective immediately. The retailer held an emergency conference call informing staff to begin removing all Apple-related product inventory and kiosks from all US and Canadian stores. At this point it appears Costco stores will go ahead and sell their existing stock of iPods, but will not be ordering more units once current inventories expire.
While no specific reason for the action has been given, speculation holds that Costco is angry with Apple for not including the retailer as an approved outlet to sell the iPad, so Costco’s actions are basically a measure of retribution.
Examining the situation it’s hard to tell if it’s a worse deal for Apple or Costco. The retail chain is indeed quite expansive and popular, but it’s hard to tell how many people head to a Costco for electronics purchases in general and iPod shopping in particular. On the other hand, it’s one less outlet where Apple can peddle its devices, and losing such a chain will bear a significant hit on the company’s bottom line over the long haul.
Of course, this whole issue may be little more than bluster, as it likely boils down to Costco’s attempt to make a stand and demand distributor rights for iPads. If Apple relents and adds Costco to the list of iPad retailers then this will all go away quickly. If not, then don’t plan on picking up a new Touch while shopping for gallon jars of mayonnaise and one-pound bags of cereal.