In the age of the e-reader and tablet, every person that purchases an Amazon Kindle, Nexus tablet or iPad should be viewed as a customer Barnes & Noble will likely never get the chance to serve again.
That makes me wonder what goes through a consumer’s mind when they’re deciding which device to buy. I figure they’re mostly focused on brand, price, feature set, and perhaps what their friends and family recommend. But as Arico goes on to say:
Today, when a person decides which e-reader or tablet they’re going to buy, they’re also committing to the online retailer to supply books and other content.
You could argue that Amazon and B&N are making the decision less painful by offering reader apps on all popular platforms (e.g., Mac, Windows, Android, iOS). So the Kindle ebook you buy from Amazon can be read just about any modern device.
But what if Apple decides they’re tired of Amazon customers buying ebooks outside iOS and reading them on an iOS-powered device? Maybe Apple removes the Kindle app from their platform. (It could happen.) Or what if Amazon has a falling out with Google and the Kindle app disappears from all Android devices? You could replace “Amazon” with “B&N” in either of those examples and have the same problem.
Let’s look at this a bit differently: What if B&N comes out with a killer tablet that has all sorts of terrific features not found on any other device? And what if you’ve spent the past 5 years building your Kindle ebook library but the B&N device doesn’t support the Kindle app? Unless you’re prepared to abandon your library you probably won’t purchase and enjoy that new B&N tablet.
This doesn’t seem to be on many people’s radar right now but every ebook purchased today makes it harder for that customer to switch platforms tomorrow. Or, as Arico says later:
A customer who purchases an e-reader is paying for admission into a store they may never leave.
What do you think? Consumers may not have buyer’s remorse today but is this platform lock-in something they’ll eventually regret?