It’s on! NOOK Simple Touch challenges Kindle
“But that is the risk which the strongest always faces in accepting challenges. If he wins, it is no virtue. If he loses, it is a cosmic joke for three thousand years.”
The Fate of the Phoenix (a Star Trek novel)
written by Myra Culbreath and Sondra Marshak
Clearly, there has been a competition between the NOOK and the Kindle since the former was released.
Since then, though, Barnes & Noble has changed their marketing company…and “this time, it’s personal”*.
When the new NOOK Simple Touch (NST) was introduced, the Kindle was specifically mentioned. They talked about reflash (the redrawing flash between “pages”), and the number of buttons.
More interesting to me has been the print ads I’ve seen…I still get paper magazines, although I’d love to have a good digital substitute.
has a picture of the first ad I saw.
The headline is
Goliath, meet David
and it shows the NST and an attributed quotation about the superiority of the NOOK over the Kindle (from ZDNet).
I’ve seen the second one in a current magazine, with this headline:
“Books didn’t need buttons for five centuries. Why start now?”
That also has a picture of the Kindle and the NST…and the same ZDNet quotation. The ads, in fact, look very much the same.
The second ad, of course, is a bit silly. The first NOOK had a keyboard…and the current one has buttons. Yes, buttons plural: I’ve seen them suggest strongly that it only has one, but there are physical “page turn” buttons. You could also say, “Books didn’t need built-in dictionaries…” or “Books didn’t need virtual keyboards…”
Still, silly doesn’t mean ineffective in advertising.
It’s also not going to hurt that, for the first time, a NOOK outscored a Kindle at
It only beat it by one point, and they say that if the Kindle public library lending is well implemented, that could put the Kindle back ahead.
That doesn’t matter, though…marketshare is more dependent on perception than on the facts.
I’ve noticed more people finding this blog looking for NOOK and Kindle comparisons lately.
The link I put into an MSNBC video comparison between the two devices
is my third most clicked link of the month.
My feeling is that marketshare leaders lose their positions not by underestimating their competitors, but my overestimating consumers’ brand loyalty.
Do I think Amazon is going to do that?
No, I don’t think that’s likely, personally.
They don’t stand still. They care customercentric. They innovate.
I do think Barnes & Noble is going to increase its marketshare with the NST. It’s a bit like innings in a baseball game, and B&N is up right now. ;)
There are two interesting factors right now.
Amazon still seems to be fighting the iPad in their ads (they talk about the ability to read the Kindle in bright sunlight). That does help against the NOOKColor, but not the NOOK.
That’s going to make features a tough fight…you have perceived competitors with opposite features.
Amazon is going to have to think about the branding…
The other important piece is that Amazon is likely to introduce a tablet (or two) this year. If that means they don’t also introduce a new Kindle, that would let B&N gain ground in the dedicated EBR race.
I think an Amazon tablet could do very well…but it’s not going to go to number one in tablets (that’s still going to be the iPad (2)), I think).
There’s a risk in diversifying.
Barnes & Noble has done a great job in securing a place in the e-book world. Their growth in that area has been fast and big. Partially, that’s due to overall growth in the market, but they’ve also really committed to it (even choosing not to pay dividends to stockholders this year so they could have more resources for the battle).
Competition is good. It drives innovation (technological and otherwise, like service), partially by convincing stakeholders that it’s necessary. It’s hard to get the Board to invest money and take chances f you are on top and unchallenged.
I’ll predict right now that Barnes & Noble is going to have good things to say about NST sales before the end of the summer.
What do you think? Have perceptions started to shift? Is Kindle no longer generic for EBR? Can B&N continue to grow when their current economic push stops? Is a touchscreen Kindle inevitable? Feel free to let me know.
* “This time it’s personal” is worth…oh, fifteen trivia points. Remember that you only get trivia points if you don’t look it up…you have to just know the answer. What’s the source of that line? If you know, comment this post. It might be tougher than I think it is, but we’ll see.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.