The Gift Card Advantage

You see this?


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That is called a big fat competitive advantage.

Two companies don’t have it and three companies are wasting it.

This is a kiosk in a store near where I live. It’s a pharmacy chain.


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Apparently this has become so popular, they’ve added even more:


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And look who’s there, close-up:


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That’s four major eBook vendors right there: Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders.

Who’s missing?

Google eBookstore and Kobo.

Who’s wasting this opportunity?

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony.

Sony has Gift Cards but their sale tends to be limited to those locations that also sell the Reader hardware. That is a huge mistake.

Barnes & Noble’s custom-mutated DRM requires all customers to have a credit card. So these gift cards are worthless to buy eBooks (or, as they correctly call them, Nookbooks).

Amazon’s new Android App Store also requires all customers to have a credit card. They claim this is for DRM geo restictions. But that just doesn’t make any sense to me. Amazon has confirmed that I could go to any store, buy its Gift Cards, and use them to not only buy any eBook offered at the Kindle Store — I could also use them to buy a Kindle itself! That I — and everyone else — can’t use these Gift Cards to buy Android apps is frustrating and I think will cost Amazon customers at that store.

All you tech people talk a good game about a so-called “digital divide,” but it’s hollow talk. The divide isn’t digital — I’ve seen filthy homeless people with low-end smartphones, for god’s sake (thank you, MetroPCS)! — the divide is plastic.

With millions of people thrown out of their homes due to widespread financial fraud, their credit ratings ruined, their credit and debit cards wiped out and gone, it’s Gift Cards that allow them to still purchase online and take advantage of the discounts all the techies take for granted while wringing their hands over an imaginary vision of “the poor” they think they “need” to help.

If Google eBookstore wants to survive, it needs to get Google Gift Cards out there.

If Kobo Books want to ensure a continued and thriving presence in the United States should Borders finally go out of business altogether, it needs Kobo Books Gift Cards out there.

And both Barnes & Noble and Amazon need to remove their requirement for users to have credit cards for buying Nookbooks and Android apps.

These kiosks are all over the place. A supermarket near me has one twice the size of this one. You techies probably never even noticed them, smug with your wallets full of plastic — and your PayPal and Bitcoin accounts. Start noticing them. Your business depends on it.

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Filed under Amazon Kindle, Android, Apple: The Company, Barnes & Noble Nook, eBooks: General, Friction, Google, Kobo Reader, Marketing

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