Update: No one else is reporting the same issue, so it looks like a mountain has been made out of a molehill.
Ever since Kobo and Walmart first announced their partnership earlier this year I struggled to see how this would have a huge impact on ebook sales. Consumers don’t go to Walmart to buy books, much less ebooks, so this deal looked like it would have about as much impact on ebook sales as a wet fart in a hurricane.
I was checking Kobo’s site this morning after updating my review of the Inkbook Lumos, and I discovered how Kobo has adopted a Microsoft-ian or Apple-esque solution to guarantee that Walmart will get its share of ebook sales in the US.
When Microsoft wanted in on the web browser market in the mid 1990s, they forced PC makers to install Internet Explorer with Windows. And when Apple found it couldn’t compete in the ebook market, in early 2011 it forced competitors to change their apps in ways that hurt customers (this is why ebook apps on iOS no longer link to web stores).
Now Kobo has adopted a similar practice in order to drive sales to Walmart’s 3-week old ebookstore, and in doing so they have cut off any customers who won’t knuckle under.
When I visited Kobo’s site this morning and tried to look at its apps and ereaders, I kept getting kicked over to the Walmart site.
Kobo has now banned its US customers from accessing its website. No matter what we do, we are forcibly redirected to Walmart’s website.
And to add insult to injury, when I do try to log in with my Kobo account, I am forced to answer one of the image recognition Captchas that have begun to infest the web (oh hell no).
I have had an account with Kobo since 2010 which I can no longer access. I haven’t bought a lot of ebooks there, so this isn’t a huge loss, but it is still annoying as hell.
I’m sure someone is going to tell me there is a solution, but frankly, Kobo has thrown so many roadblocks in the way that they are making it clear that they don’t want my business.
Fine by me.