Healthy competition is the bread and butter of capitalism, and Google is no stranger to stirring the money pot in its favor. But Google's latest decision to try its hand selling eBooks threatens to create a standards war that may prove destructive to many consumers.
Google's eBook store will pit it directly against Amazon and Amazon's Kindle -- an enormously popular eBook reader. Amazon sells 280,000 fixed-price titles that can only be read on the Kindle or its iPhone app. Google, on the other hand, stated that it will allow publishers to set eBook prices, which will likely result in a price increase across many titles. But this is what publishers want, and will therefore inspire them to make more titles available via an electronic format.
Also, Google does not have a dedicated eBook reader, and it doesn't seem as though building one is in its horoscope. This will push many companies to create eBook readers to take advantage of Google's new store, and will flood the market with tough choices. Do you choose Amazon and risk its Kindle eBooks becoming obsolete? Or do you pick another reader that may not function as well as the Kindle and hope Google's store comes out on top of this rising storm?
This is shaping up to become another Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD battle, which had many pros and cons. The biggest con, obviously, goes to the people who pick the losing team and are then stuck with titles and devices that become inadequate or outmoded. The biggest pro is that now we'll get a multitude of purchasing options, rather than the current, rather limited market.