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Smart Phones, eBook Readers, and the Same Old, Same Old

Article Source Andy Updegrove's Blog
December 11, 2009, 6:37 am

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose
— French Proverb

Sony Betamax TapeAh yes — “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Isn’t that how the old saw goes? Or, in the more impatient parlance of today, simply “Same old, same old.” So perhaps it should be no surprise that the old proverb would also hold true in the rough and tumble world of standards. And that is the case, not only generally, but more particularly in the suddenly hot war over eBook reader formats. This time around, though, there are a few new and interesting twists (on which more later).

What’s the “same old” part all about? There are two alternate behavioral flavors: (1) try and set a de facto standard that you control, perhaps even obtaining a near monopoly in the process (the “winner takes all” strategy), and (2) pit your standard against another, where your standard gives you some relative, if not absolute, advantages (the “our team vs. their team” strategy).

In this case, it looks like Amazon is attempting to pull off the first, but in fact it’s hard to tell whether they are serious, or just adopting a flawed strategy. Either way, I believe they will eventually have to admit defeat.

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