With a simple software update US bookseller Barnes & Noble just turned their e-reader, the NOOK Color, into a full-fledged Android v 2.2 ‘Froyo’ tablet complete with apps and Adobe Flash for the bargain basement price of $249. This is a big deal.
So for half the price of an iPad you get:
- a 7″ Android tablet with 169 pixels per inch (iPad 2 has only 132) – this is essentially the same as the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
- 8 GB memory with microSD slot for expansion up to an additional 32 GB
- a custom app store with big name apps such as Angry Birds, Pulse News and Epicurious
- free in-store reading of any NOOK e-book for an hour each day
- free all you can eat in-store Wi-Fi
Now, let’s look at what you DON’T get:
- No 3G option,
- only 8 hour battery life with wireless OFF
- app store is a custom Barnes & Noble curated shop – no Android Marketplace
Well, there is no more ‘and.’
I ran out of disadvantages to list. Despite its shortcomings, that’s a lot of features for an Android tablet.
To be sure, this is not a really big threat to the iPad. But, Barnes & Noble certainly just made the tablet market really interesting. Even though it has a weak processor, anemic battery life and a limited selection of apps, the average consumer won’t care. They have just aimed squarely at middle class folks who can’t justify spending half a grand or more on a high end tablet.
Although I don’t think Apple is too worried about NOOK Color, I’d be very worried if my company’s product is labeled PlayBook, Galaxy Tab or XOOM. But never mind them, you can bet Amazon is hard at work on a ‘Kindle’ tablet of their own. The other big play here is Barnes & Noble’s massive network of over 700 big box stores and over 600 college campus book stores where their loyal customer base can take a look at the NOOK before buying. Amazon? Nada. Advantage: Barnes & Noble. The one hope Amazon has to beat them is its international presence, Barnes & Noble is US-only.
As for RIM, Motorola and Samsung – good luck competing with $249. Your competition is no longer Apple, it’s Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
For more information or to download the software update, see NOOK Color