Indian eCommerce Market’s Big Daddy, Flipkart which had introduced eBooks in November 2012 with an Android app, has now extended the service to other platforms with the launch of its eBooks app on iOS, and Windows Phone in addition to a Web interface for the service on its Flyte platform. Flipkart has also inked a tie-up with Nokia under which app will be pre-installed on upcoming Nokia Lumia devices.
The company had launched the eBook category with a selection of over 70,000 eBooks; this number has now gone up to 2.5 lakhs. “We aim to increase this to 10 lakhs by 2013-end,” said Mekin Maheshwari, Head – Payments and Digital media, Flipkart.
The application has various set of catchy features, but what sets it apart from Amazon’s Kindle is it’s ‘FlipStream technology’ that will speed up the reading experience across apps, enabling the reader to access any section of the eBook instantaneously, eBook recommendations – based on the reader’s reading habits, in addition to personalisation features that give users the option to control their reading experience by selecting their preferred reading mode (day, night and sepia), font size and orientation (landscape/portrait).
Another interesting feature is, ‘Sync your reading location’ which means you can exit your book on a particular device and start reading from the same point in another device. It also offers previews through ‘FlipThru’ allowing readers to read 10 percent of the ebook even before buying it.
It’s interesting how the company has aped some of these features on the lines of Amazon, which also offers eBooks.
Flipkart has time and again tried to distance itself from its comparison with Amazon. But, sadly the facts show a different picture altogether. Here are some of the explanations behind this belief:
- Like Amazon, which burnt money in its early years, Flipkart, too, is going through cash at a rapid rate. Amazon was founded in 1996 but reported its first annual profit only in 2003. By then, it had accumulated losses of $2.97 billion, although its sales had grown to $5.26 billion from $15.75 million in its first year. Flipkart doesn’t put profitability as a priority in the next few years – which just reaffirms the Amazon’s Business Model that has always believed in gaining customers and growing revenue rather than focussing on profit.
- This February, Flipkart moved to marketplace model from its earlier business model since it allowed Flipkart to save on storage and other inventory-related costs as the products are held by the merchants. Amazon had gone the same way in 2001, just 5 years after its launch in 1996. At present, Amazon gets around 40% of its business from third-party sales globally.
- Both Flipkart and Amazon started out with selling books online and then expanded categories. Amazon expanded its offerings with strong focus on Kindle, Music, Movie Database and Cloud. Flipkart has followed that up in recent years with acquisition of music store, Flyte and movie database portal, Chakpak.com. Flipkart foraying into eBook market is just another effort to woo Indian eBook readers that have long resorted to Amazon’s Kindle.
But following Amazon’s model and schemes has not been Flipkart’s only virtue. Flipkart has been instrumental in solving and optimizing the logistical issues that had long prevented Amazon from venturing into India. Flipkart’s game-changing “Cash-on-Delivery” scheme circumvented the credit card problem in India – most Indians either do not have a credit card, or are reluctant in using them for online transactions.
Flipkart has solved some problems that have prevented Amazon from entering India in the past, and therefore, it will be difficult for Amazon to automatically solve those problems.
That said, with the surplus resources and equity that Amazon has at its helm, it can turn out to the next Big Daddy of eCommerce market, but they have a fair amount of work to do to match Flipkart, all of which pretty much means that the consumer will win.
Amazon would find acquiring Flipkart more feasible than creating its own user base over a period of time. This is the dream Flipkart investors are hoping for day in and day out considering the present loss account of the company.
Tell us what you feel about Flipkart’s new update and the competition that it gravely foresees from Amazon!