For years, MIT's Duncan Simester has watched suppliers struggle to develop new and better ways to reach end-customers. Now the Internet offers them a powerful means, but the ramifications can be unpredictable. If you spend enough time in the IT industry, you begin to think it's the only place where channel conflict exists. While this conflict is clearly one of the industry's most contentious issues -remember the hysteria created by now-failed Compaq Connect strategy? - its occurrence spreads far beyond the realm of IT.