Barnes & Noble’s e-reader, the Nook, has busted the Kindle, according to figures released by DigiTimes research today. It accounted for 53% of all e-reader sales in March, although this can be put down in part to consumers’ obsession with the newest technology they can lay their hands on–and, in part, to its frequent firmware updates. So, perhaps B&N’s approach is something that any tech firm girding their loins to launch into the tablet market should study as they attempt to wrestle market share away from Apple and its iPhone.
1. Price it right
Both Nook and Kindle retail for $259. Any new tablet needs to be priced similarly to the iPad. Too cheap, and it’ll be discounted as a shonky Chinese knock-off, too expensive, and you’ll price yourself out of the market. Remember, the price of technology is constantly getting lower and lower (for better or for worse).
2. Don’t be cynical about holding stuff back for later versions
One of the most annoying things about Apple is its hardline approach to making its first-gen products only go so far. So, no front-facing camera on the earliest incarnation of the iPhone, no video, ensuring that consumers are always hankering after the latest version–see what our own Gina Trapani has to say on the matter.
3. Don’t limit your product’s points of sale
Until the Nook came along, the Kindle was only available on its parent company’s Web site, Amazon.com. Since yesterday, it’s available in just 103 Target stores–one in Minneapolis, 102 in south Florida. The moral of the story? Late adopters get into tech earlier than you think–they just need to be able to play around with it in person, rather than checking out the specs in the online shop. Barnes & Noble’s 775 stores have been selling the Nook ever since its launch and for the past month, it’s been on stock at Best Buy.
4. Your product is not the virtual replacement of the physical
Look at the Nook’s spiffy little firmware update from last week. Aside from the beta-form browser, it allows you to go into any B&N store and access any of its books on sale via its proprietary Wi-Fi system. Neater than neat, eh? Unlike Steve Jobs, who reckons that nobody reads books any more, B&N is counting on the fact that people do.
5. Go Android
The Nook plays host to the Android OS, which means, as well as Android apps, you get a USB port. As for other operating systems, well, Symbian is way behind the curves and, although Windows’ Phone7 OS looks promising, it’s hard to see developers getting as excited about Microsoft as they do with OS X and Android.
6. Don’t lock your system down
Apple’s insistence on locking down its OS and only allowing Apple-vetted apps to get past it is, one could argue, great for the brand. But it doesn’t exactly endear itself to the non-fanboi section of tech users. If you must lock down, then make sure you have the ability to offer consumers damn good content. After all, a gadget is only as good as what its add-ons can offer its users.