Remember when the UK retail giant Tesco snapped up white-label ebookstore provider Mobcast last September? Tesco confirmed today what we all suspected they were planning to do with the company.
MobCast is going to be renamed BlinkboxBooks (or they could simply be providing the ebookstore while remaining independent). It's going to be combined with the Blinkbox video service Tesco bought a couple years ago and the We7 music service (soon to be renamed as BlinkboxMusic) as part of Tesco's new plan to get into the digital content market. The new content store will also support the Clubcard TV service that Tesco is developing. That service will rely on BlinkboxVideo and be free to members of Tesco's Clubcard loyalty card club (a la Amazon Prime Video).
Blinkbox will continue to be run separately from the Tesco main retail website, and carry only subtle mentions of the corporate parent. That's a rather odd decision on the part of Tesco, because sources say that they plan to promote it heavily in their stores. Tesco is apparently long tired of losing customers to Amazon:
In doing so, Tesco hopes to stop the steady march of customers going to Amazon for just one sort of item only to turn to the mammoth online retailer for a large range of household goods. That drift has already become ingrained in shopping habits in the US, where many customers regularly buy ordinary items such as nappies or cleaning products from Amazon, as well as luxury items like books and electrical goods.
Blinkbox also announced a number of new hires who will head up the expanded company. Mark Bennett, whoselists as the head of Digital & Cross Channel at the UK grocery chain Sainsbury’s, will take on the role of managing director of BlinkboxMusic. Blinkbox Books will be lead by , who used to work at Facebook as the Retail Lead for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
I can understand why Tesco would want to pursue the digital content market but I'm not sure that the new BlinkboxBooks will have much positive effect. Mobcast only has around 130,000 ebook titles in their catalog (according to theirand past coverage), far less than the million or more titles in the main ebookstores. Tesco can send all the people they want to BlinkboxBooks but if the content isn't available then they won't stay. Instead Tesco's customers are more likely to get the impression that Blinkbox is a second rate content store and they won't be back.
image by otama