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Old 08-07-2011, 02:30 PM   #15
fjtorres
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stonetools View Post
As for iBooks , Apple certainly has the money and engineers to make iBooks a worthy competitor to Amazon and B&N.
Maybe.
Probably not.
Think about it, would Apple have courted all this bad press with such a blantantly anti-competitive move if *they* thought they could make iBooks competitive by just throwing money at it?
Remember, they didn't just force Kobo to remove the book-buying link, they force removal of everything that might tell users of the app that Kobo sells books at all. They want to ensure/pretend that iBooks is the only way iOS users can buy ebooks. Most users will know better, some will not, and iBooks share of the iOS based ebook market will depend on them for most of its future growth. I may be wrong, but counting on the uninformed as your primary market for books, of all things, is not a prescription for massive growth.

The core problems with iBooks can't be solved by throwing money or software engineers at it because the problem isn't the app but the catalog and the business model. And the problem with the catalog can only be fixed by ditching Apple's business model, their insistence on Agency pricing, etc.

The problem with platform is deeper because as long as Apple sells DRM'ed ebooks, those books can only be read on iOS. Right there, they give away 80% of the ebook-on-cellphone market. They give away the entire eink reader market. They give away 40% (and growing) of the webpad/media pad market. By tying iBooks to iOS, Apple is handicapping iBooks' reach, which in turn limits its value to content providers and ensures the catalog will remain smaller and less attractive to consumers.

Apple likes lock-in.
And they really, really like hardware-based lock-in.
Unfortunately for them, in *this* market they're not competing against open standards, but against other purveyors of lock-in who got to the game earlier, established their name, walled-off major chunks of the market, and--worst of all for Apple--established the expectation that content be transportable.

Whether it be Amazon, Nook, Kobo, or worst of all, Google, *all other* ebookstores promise crossplatform content transportability. The market grudgingly tolerates DRM but only to the extent that the DRM does not bar transportability.

As long as iBooks is tied to iOS it cannot grow to compete with the big boys; it is simply giving away too much market to the other camps. No amount of money, no fancy software feature can counter that fact. Apple likes to make up its own rules as it goes along but that is not working in ebooks and it is not going to work any time soon. So far, every move they've made has only strengthened the opposition and weakened their own hand. They need to grow iBooks beyond iOS and that is just not going to happen in time to help.

The ebook market is now past the point where any player, no matter how rich or competent, can dictate new terms of engagement. That is a sign of a maturing market. And a very good thing for consumers. Expect massive growth for most players and quiet exits for a few.
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