The Nook and the Long Uphill Battle to Cool.

From Marco Arment, on the new Nook Color’s supposed advantage over the Kindle:

”[B]ecause anyone comparison-shopping between the Nook and the Kindle, who has never owned either, will assume that color is better and choose the Nook, putting Amazon in the unenviable position of trying to explain why their screen is better to people who probably haven’t seen one in real life.

Fortunately for Amazon, there aren’t likely to be many people who actually see both devices and comparison-shop, since there probably isn’t a lot of overlap between the two retailers’ respective customers. And those who do see both aren’t likely to appreciate the Nook Color’s $249 price over the Kindle’s $139.”

I agree.  Also fortunately for Amazon, it’s Barnes & Noble who is in the unenviable position of trying to prove their e-reader is anywhere near as cool as the Kindle.

The Kindle has gotten culturally significant enough now that, for many consumers, it’s become synonymous with e-readers. You can see it in Amazon’s recent marketing: it’s all about how the Kindle is a lifestyle/status symbol*.

“Cool” is probably the most desirable feature a product could have.  It’s why there are Ipods and other MP3 player; why Iphone releases make headline news even if Android sells more phones.

It’s the difference between market player and market leader.

It’s pretty easy for the Nook to out-feature the Kindle.  But it’s a long uphill battle to becoming cooler than one. 


* :  One might suppose it says alot that the Kindle gets an entire Oprah episode dedicated to it while the Nook (and the Sony e-reader!) can only manage appearances on the Ellen Degeneres Show.

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