Barnes & Noble is giving away Nook eReaders for free – What does that mean for commerce?

Now this is radical in terms of commerce revolution: eReader already became so cheap to produce that they can now be given away with a yearly subscription to a newspaper like the New York Times for free. Before I got the news from B&N I was guessing that Amazon was going to be the one stepping in Rockefellers shoes and giving away the hardware for free just to monetize it through the content sold through their walled garden.

So who can afford to lower prices of hardware so much to give them away for free with a content subscription? To be able to do this you need to own a beautiful running walled garden and eco-system like Amazon, B&N, Google and Apple – to name some “new” players in the market. All the large hardware brands won’t be able to follow as the example of SONY shows. SONY faced the problem of too low margins for their hardware in the eReader market and consequently decided to launch an own eBook store to be embedded within their eReaders. Starting with the latest PRS-T1 eReader SONY now sells content to keep up with the market and to be able to still compete with other eReader brands having their main business in content.

It seems this time the Rockefeller model is reachable for too many players in the market as the digital content to monetize with is available for all of them quite easy. So who is going to win the game and when will Amazon launch the free Kindle to disrupt the market in a way only they can?

Additionally I am wondering who might be doing the same step in the tablet market, aiming at the usual online shoppers. There are enough people desperate for tablets and quite willing to accept some advertising or even preferred online shopping in return. Amazons Fire definitely did a first step in the US. However this was not radical enough from my point of view and $ 199 is far too expensive for a device that can be bought in China for most likely less than $ 80 once you reach a certain quantity.

If they would be visionary enough, the good old catalogue retailers like OTTO and Neckermann in Germany, would now send out tablet devices to their catalogue customers for free with their products and walled garden embedded to catch the last chance to turn their loyal readership into own e-commerce consumers before the new media players catch them all away.

About Alexander
Serial Entrepreneur & Founder in eCommerce - VP @NewStoreInc - Podcasting @theecomweek - Startup mentor @Venture_Villa

One Response to Barnes & Noble is giving away Nook eReaders for free – What does that mean for commerce?

  1. Malte says:

    Discussions like this do always happen, just after I spent money on a topic like this :-(

    It’s just one week ago that a (small) Kindle arrived and now people start talking about giving it away for free… Sometimes I hate the speed of the new economy ;-)

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