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May 2011
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Barnes & Noble to Release New Kindle Competition

There has been a lot of speculation going around about the possibilities for the next generation of the Kindle competitive Nook eReader.  Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) announced quite recently that on May 24th 2011 we will be hearing all about their new eReading device.  Other than that, there’s little to go on so far.

The Kindle vs Nook competition has been an ongoing factor in the advancement of the eReading industry as a whole.  Amazon finds a way to extend the Kindle’s battery life, and B&N follows suit.  B&N brings a couple games to their eReader and now you can find bunches of even better ones in the Kindle Store.  It’s all about one-upsmanship.  Though there were obviously other factors involved this was a major force in driving eReader prices below the $150 in the first place.  It has only ever worked out to the benefit of the consumer.

These days, B&N has been concentrating on the Nook Color for a while now and as a result is pretty much out of the game.  The Nook Color is an amazing mini-tablet and can be a lot of fun.  It even has some definite advantages over the Kindle for particular uses.  It does not push things very well in a one on one feature comparison, however.

I’m hoping that this announcement addresses that with the first major update to the monochrome Nook’s hardware.  At the moment the Kindle is significantly lighter, easier to read on, faster, and has far better battery life.  The comparison definitely stands a bit one sided at the moment.  That said, it is hard to imagine where there is room for enough improvement to put a Nook product back on top.  The shortcomings of the Kindle, such as they are, have more to do with the software end than the hardware these days.

It is more likely that we’ll be seeing an update to the Nook Color.  The most recent software update for that device has made it capable of taking on the iPad in a limited sort of way, opening it up to a large variety of apps and drastically improved functionality.  The whole Nook Color endeavor has been such a success for B&N that it seems difficult to imagine that they won’t seize the chance to capitalize on the success with a boost to the somewhat underpowered hardware.

There is a lot of money to be made in digital content beyond the eBook and with Amazon seemingly poised to drop their own Tablet PC by the end of the year, now is the time for Barnes & Noble to get the jump on a serious entry into the marketplace.  Who knows, we might even end up getting the first color eReader with an E Ink screen from them?  Even without that, if they can keep the price down enough it will be a big hit.

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