Dear Barnes & Noble,
I fear you have lost your way with the new 1.4.1 software update policy for the Nook Tablet. You see, I very much wanted to not be one of these customers that have run out, rooted and disabled software updates just for better apps, but seeing that you have very few apps of real value to me and poorly operating versions of the ones you do have, I’ve had to join that bandwagon.
I know your strategy is to build a competing application market to Android and Amazon, so that you get my book AND app business, but there may be too much already out there for those platforms and too few developers willing to write B&N Market versions to wait on. For example, I really want an Exchange App, but the only decent one in your store is Touchdown, which has aligned itself with Amazon. That said, the B&N version is buggy and has a really bad UI, while the Android version looks beautiful. So unless you really just intended for me to use my NT as a really fast eReader, this arrangement just isn’t working out.
Your strategy seems familiar; it reminds me of the VHS vs BetaMax battle in the 1980’s. BetaMax was arguably a better technology and better format, but the tight technology control allowed VHS to outnumber it multiples to one. Although it might have been better, it lost partly because it’s customer services (video offerings) were so limited they did not meet the customer’s demands. Your new application clampdown puts you in the BetaMax camp. It’s a shame because you used to be the other guy.
Do you know why I originally picked your B&N Nook Original over Kindle? It was because you opened up to me your book offerings in addition to libraries, lending and Google Books. I saw Amazon as the closed content (BetaMax) provider. You guys were VHS; you had victory in your sights!
But now the NT has arrived and is a better device than the Kindle, but you have chosen to limit the app market to only a smattering of what is out there, which puts me as a customer in a real quandary. Do I give up the promise of what I can do with my NT and not root, decide that I don’t want a BetaMax and exchange my NT for a Kindle, or go the more adventurous route of root and live off the grid?
Will developers decide that they want to write and support the B&N versions of software knowing that they may make less for such a presently small market or that they may sell less if B&N charges more than the same app costs in Amazon or Android? Eventually they may, but unless there is an even greater compelling reason for a customer to purchase a Nook over a Kindle, they won’t.
So your strategy appears to be based on selling hardware at a loss or minimal return and making up the difference by selling applications that don’t yet exist and developers don’t want to write. I’d say the overall value proposition for a tablet versus an eReader is sliding back to Kindle.
So, here I am, a newly rooted NT user who is really impressed with what your device can do. I’ve been pulling for you in the past, and I’d really like to see you develop a strategy to open up the application market and differentiate yourself through better customer services (I mean, really, the local store support is usually pathetic), and superior technology. I know you can do it, but for know, I’m off the grid.