Do you suppose that trademark grin on the side of every Amazon box will get a little bigger now, maybe even showing some teeth?
The countdown has begun. Two noteworthy things happened yesterday. First, Amazon introduced a slew of new Kindle devices. Nothing revolutionary but some nice new features nonetheless. Second, and more importantly, Judge Cote approved the ebook settlement. I tend to think Amazon is probably more psyched about the latter than the former. After all, this means they can use their deep pockets to sell ebooks at a loss (OK, make one dollar of profit for each imprint) and drive the competition out of business.
It’s a victory for consumers, or so we’re being told. So what’s B&N, the #2 player, going to do now? Can they really match Amazon on pricing for very long? I don’t see how. And what’s the “why-to-buy” for a Nook anyway? I bought my Nook with GlowLight because I wanted to support the underdog. I’m in the minority though and I’m pretty sure yesterday’s developments will make it even harder for B&N to win over more new ebook/device customers.
Since there’s not a lot of innovation happening with these devices and platforms I figure B&N only has one option left. It’s the step some of us thought Amazon would take yesterday but they didn’t: Take a page out of the cell phone business and offer a low-end device for free that comes with a longer-term revenue commitment.
Remember this old line?: “Nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM.” There’s a similar belief that’s rapidly growing in the consumer space: “Nobody ever regrets buying Amazon/Kindle.” After all, you can get plugged into the $79/year Prime membership program and buy just about anything effortlessly, you get access to all those free ebooks, video, etc. Why wouldn’t someone buy a Kindle device?
The bigger question B&N has to answer is: “Why would someone want to buy a Nook over a Kindle?” If B&N doesn’t act quickly and with a really agressive campaign it’s clear their ebook market share will decline.
What do you think? Is the door rapidly closing on B&N’s opportunity to be a leader in the ebook space?
P.S. — Maybe the ideas I suggested in this earlier post aren’t so crazy after all.