Google may require that their ebook app be installed on almost all Android devices, but it is often pretty easy to forget that Google sells ebooks, much less that its ebook market share is around 2% (by optimistic estimates).
Nevertheless, this has inspired my competitor to ponder why Google doesn't make an ereader rather than just sell ebooks on smartphones like the one shown below.
The Play Books app is actually pretty good too, and it even supports uploading your own ePub and PDF books. Too bad Google doesn’t put more effort into their ebook business.
They could offer a really nice dedicated E Ink ebook reader if they really wanted to, and they have the technology and resources to make it unique enough to gain attention from readers.
Lots of people would love to have a good ePub-supporting alternative to the Kindle. Google could have some interesting features like being able to download nicely-formatted web articles and news clippings and being able to access their library of digitized content.
First, that sound you hear is the folks at Kobo up in Toronto asking, W'hat are we, chopped liver?"
They would have good point, if they had said that. Kobo does make a good epub-supporting alternative to the Kindle (or rather, their hardware partner Netronix makes decent alternatives to the Kindle and then licenses them to Kobo, B&N, and other companies).
When I first read that post, I wondered why Google would bother with an E-ink ereader; the real question is what's in it for Google, when they make most of their money from ads, have such a small share of the ebook market, and don't have the hardware team to make an ereader in the first place.
But then there's Netronix, and that changes the entire focus of the discussion. Google doesn't have the team to make their own ereader, but then again they don't need one. They could outsource development to Netronix and then sell the resulting products alongside the other devices in the Google Store.
Remember, Google also sells a smart speaker, tablet, and smartphones under it own brand. Many of those devices are now designed in house, but in the past Google has sought outside engineering expertise to build it gadgets.
It would have taken very little for Google to have the ebook people it acqui-hired with ETI in 2011 to work with Netronix and produce an ereader that was tied to Google Play Books.
Does anyone have a good idea why they did not?
My guess is that Google dropped plans for the ereader when they failed to make gains in the ebook market.
Remember, in 2011 Google bought ETI in January and then worked with iriver to launch the Story HD in July. If Google had succeeded in gaining significant market share, they would have followed up with the launch of a Google eReader and boosted growth momentum.
But as we know, Google never gained significant share of the market, and that killed its plans to directly challenge Amazon in the ereader market.
Or do you think there's another explanation?