Monday, March 15, 2010

Oops! Guess I Use Kindle Now

The concept of portable book readers has long appealed to me. Unfortunately, when I lived in Canada, the Kindle was not available outside the US. By the time I moved to the US to go to school, I was in school, and thus my leisure reading declined in favour of cases and textbooks. Sigh.

Over Thanksgiving, I rekindled my love of books, but having gotten used to the touch-screen convenience of my iPhone, the buttons on the Kindle kind of annoyed me. How can I get used to such an archaic device when I was so used to the function on my iPhone? (Yes, this sounds ridiculous, but if you've ever flipped through photos on an iPhone, you'll understand.)

Just before Christmas, Barnes and Noble put out a tempting offer for my eBook reader desires: the Nook. It had a touchscreen, and as far as I could tell, was otherwise competitive with the Kindle. Although I wasn't ready to make the purchase myself, I did think it might make a lovely Christmas present. They were, of course, sold out, but my Mom suggested I look into a book reader app for my iPhone.

Of course, there is an app: a Kindle app. And it's free to download. So I installed it on my phone, and now I buy most of my books that way. I actually bought my first book for school that way today.

When I got an email from Amazon today informing me there is now an application for my computer to read all my Kindle books, I realized that without even purchasing one, I've become loyal to the Kindle. My library is currently being built up with books, all of which need to be accessed on some sort of Kindle related app. If I ever buy a portable book reader (not sure if the iPhone battery cuts it for long plane trips and reading books), it will be a Kindle, not a Nook, after all.

It's funny, because the same thing happen with Apple to make me iPod dependent. Apple just put up this convenient, easy-to-use store and application that just made it SO, SO easy to download .99 songs and create CDs. When I made the leap to portable music player, it had to be an iPod.

So, what does this mean for business? Having just completed my strategy course over spring break, this seems like a great strategic option. It's not an accident on Amazon's part that I now use the Kindle. Their use of integration created barriers to entry for other potential eBook readers by raising the cost of switching for me. As I slowly build up my collection of eBooks, the cost to replace them with another devices format gets higher and higher.

Anyway, I won't continue to theorize on how this strategy is successful. Instead, I will just hope that Amazon can take a design cue from Apple and produce a Kindle with a convenient, easy-to-use, shiny touch screen by the time I'm in the market.


JordyF said...

Those small conveniences really add up, don't they? The world of technology is improving so quickly that it is these little things that can make a difference.

However, I'm not 100% sure that kind of strategy will last. The concept of the proprietary software works now, but there is a strong movement towards open-source and compatibility. As more and more people enter the tech-savvy world we might see more ubiquitous stuff emerge... hard to say!

MBA Class of 2012 said...

I wonder if you may be more inclined to buy the iPad than an actually e-book. I assume it will be more similar to your phone, so if you don't mind reading on that type of screen maybe Apple will gobble up the market share.

I bought the Sony Pocket e-book. Mostly b/c my husband is my tech support and he felt more comfortable with that one. He claimed Kindle had too many bad reviews. Also note he ditched the sony software in favor of open source Calibre (just like JordyF said).

Of course all his efforts to stay in the open-source world were thwarted by my need to Adobe Digital Reader to check out library books.