Singtel is going to stop selling ebooks in their Skoob ebookstore on Tuesday, and they will be turning off the servers on 5 November. Customers are advised to download their ebooks to Adobe DE before the hammer comes down. (And while you’re at it, remove the DRM so your purchases will be safe).
No details have been released to explain the closure, but a SingTel spokesman did say: “Although we have seen steady response to skoob since its launch in Nov 2011, we have decided to focus our resources on other parts of our business where we see stronger growth potential.”
Singtel also didn’t offer an explanation to their customers. “Despite a challenging market, we had a great run, and it wasn’t an easy decision to make. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support,” said Skoob, in an e-mail to customers.
Skoob was launched a little under 2 years ago, but it never amounted to much. According to Google Play the Android app has under half a million downloads, a rather small figure when compared to Singtel’s 3.5 million customers in Singapore.
I haven’t mentioned Singtel or Skoob on this blog before; I wrote about them elsewhere. But in retrospect Singtel was an example of a company that would have been on my watch list (along with Sony, Samsung, txtr, Tesco, and others) had they taken a different path into ebooks.
Singtel has 3.5 million customers in Singapore and over 400 million customers in 25 countries around the world. If Singtel had followed the same path as Samsung and launched an ebook subsidiary of their own, then they could have been able to scale its operations to support Singtel’s partners and subsidiaries in a couple dozen countries. This could have put Singtel on the top ten list of global ebookstores, but getting there required foresight and a significant investment.
But as we look at Skoob it’s pretty clear that Singtel didn’t pursue the opportunity. Instead they set up a basic white-label eboosktore. Skoob was powered by Mobcast, the Tesco subsidiary, and that might offer a hint as to why Skoob didn’t take off. Past reports have indicated that Mobcast’s own ebookstore only had around 130 thousand titles. If Skoob had a catalog as limited then I can see why readers went elsewhere.
Skoob probably also failed due to incredibly bad marketing, promotion, or pricing policies.
Skoob is pitched in, iTunes, and elsewhere as offering ebooks “at up to 20% cheaper than hardcopy versions“. That alone would stop me from downloading the app, much less browsing the ebookstore.