Amazon has signed a deal to expand the selection of Apple products on its sites worldwide. The world's largest e-commerce company said Friday it'll soon start selling more Apple products directly and have access to Apple's latest devices, including the new iPad Pro, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and Apple Watch Series 4, as well as Apple's lineup of Beats headphones. The Amazon-Apple deal encompasses the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and India, with the new products hitting Amazon sites in the coming weeks.
Only Apple-authorized resellers will now be allowed to sell Apple and Beats products on Amazon's marketplace.
Currently, many of these Apple products are either unavailable on Amazon or are on sale only through its third-party marketplace at varied prices and conditions. Amazon does already directly sell some Apple devices, such as MacBook laptops and Beats headphones.
"Amazon is constantly working to enhance the customer experience, and one of the ways we do this is by increasing selection of the products we know customers want," an Amazon spokesperson said Friday in a statement. "We look forward to expanding our assortment of Apple and Beats products globally."
With the new deal, customers should expect to see a greater selection of new Apple products and at standard prices. Also, the agreement offers a big win for Amazon just ahead of the holiday shopping season, giving it more electronics from a leading device maker with highly sought-after products. For Apple, the deal could help it sell more devices worldwide.
The agreement also points to relations between the two tech giants improving, after Amazon in 2015 removed Apple TV video streamers from its site, then brought the devices back last year. At the same time last year, Amazon said it was also bringing back Google's Chromecast streamers, but they are still unavailable amid shaky relations with Google.
"We're working with Amazon to improve the experience for Apple customers on their site," said Apple spokesman Nick Leahy, "and we look forward to those customers having another great way to buy iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac and more."
The timing of the deal does raise questions, said eMarketer analyst Andrew Lipsman, adding that Amazon's weaker-than-expected revenue in its latest quarter may have been a motivator for the company heading into the holidays. He said Apple could face some risk in providing sales data to Amazon.
"But the real threat there is in Amazon introducing a rival product. I'd say Apple is pretty safe there," he said.
The arrangement does include a few caveats. Apple's HomePod smart speaker, which competes against Amazon's own Echo devices, isn't included. Amazon doesn't list either the HomePod or the rival Google Home speakers.
"We make assortment decisions all the time, based on terms and a large number of other factors," Amazon's spokesperson said about leaving out the HomePod.
Also, independent sellers who list new and used Apple products on Amazon will have those listings removed after Jan. 4, 2019. Those sellers will now have to apply with Apple to become authorized resellers on Amazon. An email to sellers about this change went out just after the deal was signed.
The agreement doesn't impact Amazon's Renewed program, which sells certified refurbished electronics.
The change will allow Apple and Amazon to have more control over inventory and pricing of Apple products. But, smaller sellers and folks who flip iPhones right after they go on sale are likely to be hurt by the deal. Also, customers shopping for used (but not refurbished) Apple products may find a much more limited selection on Amazon. In both cases, those sellers and customers will be more likely to go to rival online sites like eBay instead.
Amazon has already been adding more restrictions to its marketplace over the years, making it harder for small sellers to put up products on Amazon if they aren't working directly with the brands they list. Amazon inked a similar partnership with Nike last year that allowed both companies to reduce counterfeits on Amazon and gain stronger control over unauthorized third-party sales of Nike products.
Independent sellers with Apple inventory in Amazon warehouses after Jan. 4 will have to create a removal order, with Amazon offering to reimburse return or disposal fees until early February. Those sellers won't be able to ship more Apple products to Amazon warehouses starting Dec. 1.
First published at 8:04 a.m. PT.
Updated, 8:55 a.m., 10 a.m. and 12:26 PT: Adds more information on the deal's impact on independent sellers, as well as Apple's and an analyst's comments.
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