April 3, 2003: Resellers Stop Selling iPods
In the early days of the iPod two of the biggest retailers were Target and, wait for it, wait for it…Dell. The latter may seem surprising when Dell makes unpopular iPod knockoffs but in the early days of the iPod the match made perfect sense: Apple needed distribution in both retail stores and a way to put the iPod in front of a lot of Windows-only people. Dell, on the other hand, needed to sell an .mp3 player to keep their toe in the nascent music game.
Soon, all was not right in iPod reseller land. Apple had reworked the contract between themselves and those who chose to sell the iPod. Target and Dell found the new terms unpalatable. The main issue behind the friction: Apple was demanding access to several years worth of any iPod reseller's records.
Yet, the arrangement was benefiting all the parties involved, so there were plenty of reasons to keep the partnerships going, reasons with dollar signs in front of them. The problems were quickly negotiated away and after a very brief hiatus the iPod was again being sold by both Target and Dell. The controversy started this week in 2003.