When 5 German ebooksellers got together last Friday and announced that they were joining forces against Amazon, I was far more pessimistic than most. I thought that this coalition wouldn't be a real competitor to Amazon until the members were better at selling ebooks than Amazon.
I still haven't seen any sign of salesmanship but today I did learn that Tolino does not appear to have the technical chops to go head-to-head with Amazon. Lesen.net reported this morning that the newly updated Tolino reading apps were flawed, buggy, and generally annoying existing users.
First, a little background. Tolino is a coalition made up of 5 German companies (Thalia, WeltBild, Hugendubel, Deutsche Telekom, and Bertelsmann), each of which had an existing ebookstore. According to their estimates at last week's press conference, the 5 ebookstores had a combined 35% share of the German ebook market, with (my estimate) more than a million users between them.
And it is with those existing users that things went terribly, terribly, wrong. Reports are coming in from the customers of a couple different ebookstores (Weltbilt, Hugendubel). Both of the Android apps for these ebookstores as well as the iOS app for Weltbilt suddenly stopped working last week after they were updated to work with the new Tolino platform.
Many users have reported in the past week that they can no longer access their previously purchased ebooks. Some are complaining that they can't even stay logged in after they exit the app.
It's so bad that the 1-star reviews have knocked one of the apps down below 2 stars:
Now, problems like this are not unique to Tolino. Even Amazon has released updated apps which cause problems, and in fact Amazon did just that a few weeks ago when a registration bug in the new Kindle IOS app cost users all the samples and ebooks currently on the device.
But Amazon also managed to address the problem within a few hours and fix it in less than a day. The current problem with Tolino is much more serious and has been going on for a week now, with no fix in sight.
That is simply not acceptable, not by any standard. And until Tolino gets their act together they simply are not a serious competitor to Amazon - I don't care what anyone says.