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Blinkbox-ware: Why Tesco could (and should) produce rivals to Kindle, iPad and iPhone devices

Tesco announced this morning that it was accelerating its push into online digital entertainment services by naming three managing directors for three services which are based on Blinkbox, We7 and Mobcast. This, one would suspect, comes amidst the growing importance of Amazon, Google and Apple. The latter has single-handedly made digital downloads, whether music, applications, books, movies or videos mass market.

There are two things currently missing from Tesco’s strategy; firstly, a more integrated approach. Unlike all three aforementioned competitors, Tesco doesn’t have magazines, applications or podcasts in its offering.

Then there’s the fact that Google, Amazon and Apple have their own product range (Nexus/Android, Kindle, iOS respectively) to differentiate themselves from the rest of the competition and provide with a unique selling point.

This brings up the question of whether Tesco, with its massive market presence and marketing clout, could and should launch its own product range. Tesco, despite the shortcomings we’ve outlined above, has more breadth than any of its rivals in the online digital world given how big it is in the brick-and-mortar one.

The company has more than 6,300 stores in the UK, employs nearly 520,000 with revenues in 2012 of more than £64 billion. With interests ranging from banking, gardening, mobile phones, film making, gold exchange, music production and even beauty salons, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tesco jumped on the hardware bandwagon.

The company already does sell own-branded CE hardware under the Technika brand but it has been associated mostly with entry level products with a “cheap-and-nasty” vibe. Notably absent from that range though are anything in a tablet, e-reader or smartphone format, which leaves us to believe that Tesco might have a few things in the pipeline.

So how likely will Tesco unveil a Tesco tablet, Tesco smartphone, Tesco PC or Tesco ebook reader? We suspect that it might happen before the end of the year and will probably happen under a separate brand, which might explain why Tesco is still keeping the Blinkbox brand alive. A Blinkbox tablet anyone? You heard it first on ITProPortal.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.