A recent report through CNET indicates that Barnes & Noble is preparing to combat the anticipated Kindle Fire 2 release with a new and improved model of their Nook Tablet. Very little is known so far when it comes to details about the device, but it seems that the new Nook will still be focused on being an eReader first and a tablet second. There are a couple different ways that this becomes important.
The biggest selling point, according to this admittedly preliminary report, will be a new sort of screen technology never before seen in the tablet market. This could mean any number of things, but seeing as Barnes & Noble is more concerned with the implementation of high quality reading applications there is a good chance that it will be battery efficient, easy on the eyes, and otherwise well suited to extended user focus.
Given their failure to seize a significant portion of the Android tablet market thus far, it would be unrealistic to speculate about a high resolution, high pixel density screen along the lines of what is used in the latest iPads and iPhones. That isn’t the sort of direct competition that would go well for the company no matter how invested they are in the future of the Nook line.
Despite their inability to make much of a dent in Android, however, the new Nook Tablet will definitely be remaining with the OS. There has been some speculation among analysts that the recent Microsoft investment in the product line would lead to a Windows 8 powered Nook, but that will not be happening just yet.
Microsoft’s announcement of the Surface tablet line was enough of an upset to their OEM partners that it seems unlikely they will enter the budget tablet market any time soon. Without their direct involvement, and the waiver of licensing fees that would have to come with it, the price of running Windows 8 remains too high for any 7” tablet priced to compete.
Obviously the hardware specifications will be closely equated to the Kindle Fire 2. Even if the Kindle Fire sold better by quite a lot, the Nook Tablet was practically a point by point demonstration of one-upmanship on that side of things and there is not likely to be much of a change despite the intrusion of Google’s Nexus 7 into the marketplace.
Where they really have to work is in media services. Both the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 do far better at getting users the content they want when they want it. There isn’t much point in offering nice hardware if it is hard to find something to use it for. A Microsoft tie-in here would make a lot of sense, especially given the software giant’s recent interest in expanding their Xbox Live media services. Streaming to Nook Tablets would help things along and save Barnes & Noble money on infrastructure development.
The Nook Tablet vs Kindle Fire decision will likely come down to an evaluation of this “revolutionary” new screen. If it is truly amazing and half as unique as claimed then Barnes & Noble will have a major advantage. If not, the Kindle Fire will still offer more content, better integration, and a smoother custom Android interface. They are both said to be coming out for just $200, but the Kindle Fire has far less to prove.
The new Nook Tablet is expected to be released in late September or October of 2012.