Connection Is The Key To Winning The eReader Battle

What E-readers should do to win


eReader battleA while ago I decided to join the 21st century and buy an electronic book reader. It felt like a simpler solution to carrying War and Peace, Moby Dick and Les Miserables on every plane trip. (As I think about it, can Ulysses be very far off?).

The decision tree in purchasing one is interesting because it taps into one of the most emotional currents running through today’s marketplace: The desire for all of us to be connected.

Here’s how the Kindle and its competitors relate to that.

There are four main products to consider: The Kindle, by Amazon, The Reader by SONY, and the Nook by Barnes and Noble and the Apple iPad. Research demonstrated that they all seemed relatively similar. Some used E Ink, had a screen size that was relatively the same and had a few features that were different but seemed unimportant for me. I chose an iPad because I only wanted to carry with me one device.

In the end, I did not buy the Kindle, not because I thought it was inferior but because I thought that Apple and Amazon had the about the same content available.

Truth Has Nothing To Do With It

How interesting considering Barnes & Nobles claims to have more titles than Amazon. That is, the one with the strongest brand promise is the one we believe controls the most content.

ipad hero eReader battleThe iPod re-wrote the book on music. It was simple, small, reliable and, because it was from Apple, cool. But the real coup de grace for the iPod was iTunes. Apple owned the content. Therefore, having an iPod meant that you were “connected.” Same holds true for the iPad.

Apple also re-wrote the cell phone book with the iPhone. Consider this: Is the AT&T 3G network as large as the one from Verizon? Who really cares?

Ask any iPhone owner. The recent Verizon TV spots – “There’s a Map for That” – does not get an iPhone user to switch. It’s defensive marketing: An attempt to stop the bloodletting of Verizon users who want an iPhone.

What made the iPhone such a roaring success was, once again, the content. In this case, that was the Apps. Apple had the Apps, and, the ability to get them meant – you guessed it -“I was connected.”

All of the content in iTunes is important because it feels as if we are making a rational decision based on the availability of “stuff” that makes our purchase decisions seem smartest.

That perception, though, is only a rationalization of usefulness and where it gets its power.

Get to the heart of It

A ruling precept – a belief that drives behavior in today’s world is our desire to feel connected. It’s the reason why Facebook and Twitter have become so alive in our world. We want to feel connected to books, a group, to just about anything. Because being seen as connected, even if it is a feigned connection to being modern and hip, it is a least as important as any real and technical benefits – and, in fact, can be the rational reasons we tells ourselves why we purchased something.

eReader battle plansIt would be a benefit for all of us to think in terms of this connectedness when developing brands and products. It is obvious from past experience that having content to support the brand is important. But what is really crucial is the understanding of the reason why you control that availability of content. It needs to serve the brand’s purpose of showing that the end user is connected.

If you think this is an overstatement, consider the Apple iPod. Apple continually made smaller and more inconspicuous. This was a product benefit that the consumer wanted. They wanted to have more music and video in a smaller and lighter device.

But the brand knew that the user also needed the means to show the world that they were “connected.” Therefore, Apple created white mini-headphones that came with every iPod. Even the advertising was designed so that the monochromatic images had one violator — the stark white head phone cables. It was a sign to the whole world that while my device was not visible, my personal brand was – and I am connected.

(Read more about the Kindle here)

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