I woke up to Twitter abuzz about an alliance between Microsoft and Barnes and Noble in an effort to take on the Kindle Fire. Tobias Buckell has already blogged about this, and I’m sure John Scalzi and Mike Stackpole won’t be far behind.
Regardless of opinion on Microsoft, this generates competition against Amazon, and that can only be a good thing for consumers. Amazon has become the driving factor in publishing, and it needs competition from one of the “big boys” on the block. It needs competition from somebody willing to take a loss to gain market share. It needs competition from somebody willing and able to play Amazon’s game, and stay with them.
Google isn’t the answer. There is a Google Books, but I don’t know many people who claim to understand it. Intel doesn’t play this kind of game, so that leaves Microsoft.
It wasn’t that long ago when people were complaining about a Microsoft World. Today, people complain about an Amazon world. It seems that when one company nears a stranglehold on consumers, especially in the tech arena, that lack of choice drives upstarts to provide alternatives.
While neither Microsoft nor Barnes and Noble could be considered upstarts, it’s an alliance that makes sense, despite coming as a complete surprise to me. Barnes and Noble has the industry knowledge and experience. Microsoft has the muscle. Together, this alliance will push the electronic book and tablet markets toward parity and choices for consumers. I can’t wait to see what this alliance means for indie authors.