One of the oft-cited drawbacks of the Barnes and Noble Nook has been its closed ecosystem. Both the Nook HD and the Nook HD+ are attractively priced competent Android tablets. Yet, their sales have been so underwhelming that at one point B&N was reportedly considering quitting the hardware business. The Nook’s biggest weakness is its poor app catalogue. Nook runs a heavily customized version of Android that only allowed users to access its own app catalogue, which housed just a few thousand apps (a good chunk of which are paid). By comparison, the Google Play Store has nearly a million apps in its catalogue. Amazon also takes a similar approach with its Kindle tablets. However, thanks to heavy promotion and great deals, the Amazon App Store has has managed to cross the 75,000 mark.
All this is changing now. Barnes and Noble is pushing out an update to its Nook HD users, which will bring down the wall and provide access to the Google Play Store. Since, Google’s Android app offering is a “take it all or leave it” proposition, Nook is now sporting Google’s full suite of apps including Gmail, Chrome, Maps, and YouTube. As of now, the update is restricted to the Nook HD and Nook HD+, with no mention of Nook Tablet and Color owners.
Obviously, the new open stance from B&N means that you get access to your full catalogue of Android apps that you might have purchased on some other device. Apps installed via the B&N app store are now watermarked with an ‘n’ on the icon to indicate its source. The update also makes it possible to install Amazon Kindle on your Nook, and enjoy content you might have purchased from Barnes and Noble’s biggest competitor.
Both Nook HD and Nook HD+ are good pieces of hardware that were being held back by the software. The latest update liberates the tablets from the Barnes and Noble’s walled garden, and users will finally be able to realize the full potential of the devices they paid for.
It looks as if Barnes & Noble is trying even harder to get on your Christmas list as they’ve announced prices cuts for both the Nook Color and Nook Tablet. The Nook Color is now sporting a $139 price-tag while the Nook Tablet is sporting a $159 and $179 price-tag for 8GB and 16GB storage capacities respectively.
These two tablets are on the lower end of the tablet spectrum as they were recently replaced by the Nook HD and Nook HD+, two tablets which are meant to compete with Google’s Nexus 7 and Apple’s iPad. However, the Nook Color and Tablet are competitively priced to compete with Amazon’s $159 Kindle Fire offering.
Both the Nook Color and Nook Tablet are dated as the color was released in 2010 while the tablet was released in 2011. These two tablets feature the same design, though they are offered in different colors and feature different specifications. The Nook Color sports a single-core CPU while the Nook Tablet offers a faster, dual-core chip. Both of these tablets run a customized version of Android and offer 7″ screens.
Do these price cuts make you want to give a Nook as a holiday gift? Let us know by dropping a comment below this post.
Microsoft and Barnes & Noble Inc. have joined hands to announce a strategic partnership – A B&N subsidiary, provisionally referred to as Newco. After the patent dispute between the two companies last year, this surprising new venture aims to focus on e-reading and the education market while burying the patent litigation apparently.
B&N will own 82.4 percent of the new subsidiary and Microsoft will make a $300 million investment to hold a 17.6 percent stake in the company. Newco, will bring together the digital and College businesses of Barnes & Noble. B&N’s NOOK Study software is a leading platform for distribution and management of digital education materials to students and educators, and Newco would aim to extend this reach. The alliance would also bring about a NOOK application for Windows 8 bringing Barnes & Noble’s digital bookstore to hundreds of millions of Windows customers worldwide.
As the two companies move forward as allies, there are few things which aren’t answered in the press release and the commentary around it:
- While the two companies closed on the alliance, how was the patent dispute tabled and settled? Would Barnes & Noble and/or Newco pay royalties to Microsoft on every Nook sold?
- While Windows 8 tablets are expected to have a NOOK application now, and this might extend to the next version of Windows Phone, would there be a Nook tablet or e-reader running, maybe, Windows RT to participate in the market against Kindle and Kindle Fire?
- While Microsoft has less than a fifth stake in the venture, would the reach of Windows platform make Nook Microsoft’s card in competition with Amazon and Apple in the e-reading market?
In the past few days, the rumors of Google making and selling their own tablet have gained steam. The rumors also point to a Kindle Fire-like price point of $199. The instant reaction is to look at Google’s earlier attempt to sell hardware directly to consumers, the Nexus One phone. We know it was a failed experiment which Google acknowledged, by shutting down the operations.
Nexus tablet, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I have firmly believed that tablets should not be sold by the carriers. Yes, there are some options with tablets where you can get cellular broadband service, but first and foremost, a tablet should be sold like a PC. I mean, a computer store or a consumer electronics store. Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics and the like. The carriers can also hop in and sell the 3G/4G versions of the tablets like they tried selling the 3G-enabled netbooks. So, taking the sales point away from the carrier stores is a good sign. Compare this with the phone where, at least in the US, it is extremely hard to sell a phone without subsidies. Nokia tried it long time ago and failed. Even Apple briefly tried the unsubsidized route but realized people are much more sensitive to upfront price than you would think. Given that the sale of the phone is tied so much to a carrier, it does not make much sense to conduct the sale away from the carrier. Apple is clearly an exception here, like in many business processes today.
Secondly, the price. If the rumors are true and the tablet is in fact around $199, it will be a huge win. A stock Android tablet with no “skins” installed, for $199 could be an interesting device. Kindle Fire has its ecosystem to rely upon but out of the box, it does limit which Android apps can run on the device. If a Nexus tablet can run all Android apps, and additionally support Amazon media consumption (either via Amazon apps like Kindle app or via the browser for Amazon Video), it becomes a superset of the Fire, for the same price as the Fire. Yes, the current Android tablets already do all of that, I understand. However, none of them have gained any traction yet, and if Google can get behind the marketing and sales, and create a Nexus phone-style clean and crisp user experience, I think users may get interested.
In fact, if this strategy does not work, you can presumably call it the end of the road for Android tablets.
Barnes & Noble have just taken the wraps off their newest Nook branded eReader cum tablet, the Nook Tablet. The tablet comes with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor from OMAP, and 1GB of RAM on-board along with 16GB of on-board memory.
The Nook Tablet comes with a 7-inch screen, which provides “HD viewing” experience. Rumors suggest that the display is sourced from LG, and is an IPS LCD, which has a nearly 180 degree viewing angle. The tablet also has the usual connectivity features including Wi-Fi b/g/n, accompanied by a bunch of sensors including an accelerometer. The tablet will also have a microSD card slot.
On the software front, the Nook Tablet will come with Nook Cloud, which will allow users to backup their content on the cloud. The tablet will also come pre-loaded with Netflix and Hulu, which will be deeply integrated with the device.
Barnes & Noble say that the tablet will provide up to 9 hours of battery life, when playing back a 1080p video. The Tablet runs on a custom version of Android.The device will go on sale from next week, for only $249, and it will be available at all popular retailers including Best Buy, Target, Walmart, RadioShack, Staples and others.
Today, Barnes & Nobles have announced the second generation Nook. The all-new Nook sports a 6-inch touch screen E-Ink Pearl display. The new display offers better contrast compared to its predecessor, and is easily readable in direct sunlight as well.
Compared to the first generation Nook, the new Nook is 35% lighter at 212 grams and is 15% slimmer as well. The eBook reader will ship with 2GB of internal memory onboard, along with a microSD card slot.
“We set out to design the easiest-to-use, most optimized, dedicated reading device ever created and accomplished it with the All-New NOOK,” said William Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble. “Touch makes it simple to use, and the beautifully compact design makes it the most portable eReader in its class. Add to that an unmatched battery life, the most advanced paper-like touch display on the market and wireless access to the world’s largest digital bookstore, and we believe that for readers of all ages, the All-New NOOK is the best eReader on the market, and a great value at $139.”
The new Nook eBook reader is based on Android 2.1, and features Nook Friends as available on the Nook Color. The eBook reader is powered by an 800 MHz processor from TI OMAP, and sports Wi-Fi but lacks 3G.
One of the highlights of the new Nook is its battery life. Barnes & Noble’s state that the new Nook has a battery life of whopping 2 months, with Wi-Fi turned off! The all new Nook can already be pre-ordered for $139, and will start shipping on June 10.
Although it does not really work yet. So do not get hyped yet.
XDA member deeper-blue ported the preview SDK version of the next iteration of Google’s mobile OS Android 3.0 on the Barnes & Noble eBook reader, the NOOKColor. Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb has been developed with tablets in mind. This means that when properly streamlined and optimized for tablet computers, Honeycomb will take the mobile computing scene to newer heights.
Deeper-blue initially described his port of Honeycomb on his NOOKColor kernel as a zombie. That was because although the system booted and ran fine, there was no touch input or hardware acceleration. Soâ€¦ not only was it incredibly slow, it could not have been useful at all.
However deeper-blue managed to hack away at the code and managed to get the touch input, orientation sensor and even the graphics libraries in order. So, for now, the NOOKColor can be used to some extent.
Needless to say, he/she has the entire XDA forum (composed mostly of geeks, technophiles, hackers and other synonyms for technology-lovers) drooling. If deeper-blue manages to successfully port Honeycomb on the NOOKColor, it could very well be the cheapest Android 3.0 tablet in existence as well as being the only Android 3.0 tablet in existence, for now. Ha!
The NOOKcolor eReader from Barnes & Noble runs a highly customized version of Android 2.1 but without the Android Market. However, the modding community has hacked the NOOKcolor to get the Android Market working on the device.
Nevertheless, Barnes & Noble has now promised that the NOOKcolor eReader will get the Android 2.2 update in January. The update is going to be a huge’ one and will turn the NOOKcolor into a tablet.
The update will also bring with it pinch-to-zoom in browser and the typical Android 2.2 home screen. NOOKcolor users will be given an option to switch between the highly modified NOOK’s UI and the Android 2.2 UI. The Barnes & Noble representative also told that the eReader will be getting access to the Android Market with this update. However, users might not get access to all the available applications.
The update will also fix the battery life and performance issues that many NOOKcolor owners are currently experiencing. The Android 2.2 update will bring performance improvement, better memory management and Flash 10.1 to the NOOKcolor.
A full blown Android 2.2 based tablet for only $249! Stellar deal!
The Nook Color was launched about 1.5 months back. I wouldn’t recommend buying it over an Amazon Kindle 3, if you want an ebook reader, but with an 800 MHz processor, it does make a very good Android tablet, especially since it is priced at just $249.
Since the Nook Color uses a customized version of Android, many modders had been trying to root it, to be able to install apps and games on it. Now, it seems, that the Nook Color has finally been rooted.
The guys over at XDA have successfully rooted the Nook Color and have managed to run quite a few apps on it. Here’s a screenshot of Angry Birds, running flawlessly on the Nook Color.
Here’s a tutorial to root the Nook Color, if you’re interested – NookDevs
Apparently, Barnes and Noble is set to launch a new ebook reader – the Nook Color, on Tuesday. It is holding an event then, when according to multiple rumors, it will unveil the new Android based eReader.
It will likely have a 7 inch color touchscreen display and will be priced at $249. No other details are out yet. We don’t even know what kind of display they will be using, as both Mirasol and color E-ink displays aren’t due to hit the market anytime soon.
What lends credence to this rumor is that Barnes and Noble had registered the domain – nookcolor.com – quite some time back.
We’ll know for sure on Tuesday, till then, stay tuned and keep checking Techie-Buzz for more updates.
via Gizmodo and Engadget