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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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Barnes & Noble Slashes Nook Tablet Price Preparing For Kindle Fire 2 Launch

The Nook Tablet, while a fine device and superior to the Kindle Fire in several subtle ways, has not really managed to achieve the kind of popularity that the Kindle Fire enjoys.  It definitely does well, but compared to the lively Kindle vs Nook competition in US eReader markets something is lacking.  Seeing as Barnes & Noble is reliant on the success of the Nook line to keep their business going at this point, though, they can’t really afford to let the Kindle competition to get too far ahead in either price or power.

I’ve mentioned here previously that there are hints cropping up that point to a new Nook Tablet in the works.  That would be expected even if Amazon were not on the verge of releasing the Kindle Fire 2, thanks to Google’s Nexus 7 tablet.  The Nexus 7 has gotten huge responses since its unveiling and proves difficult for the software giant to keep in stock.  Many view its release as the end of the existing Kindle Fire’s dominance over Android.  Since the Nook Tablet’s main claim to fame was that it provided superior technical power for about the same price as the competition, a popular device put out by Google that includes both superior hardware specs and a clean version of the most up to date Android OS is a major threat.

Still, even with that taken into consideration we have to wonder how much of what is going on over at Barnes & Noble is preparation for the Kindle Fire 2.  They have recently slashed the price of the 16GB Nook Tablet by 20% to $200, finally matching the Kindle Fire’s pricing, and lowered the Nook Color’s price to just $149.  The Nook Color may be more than a little bit obsolete at this point, but it is also still a good deal at that price and might be among the most easily rooted devices on the market.  Keeping it around at a lower price makes sense in the same way that Amazon’s offering a highly limited Kindle eReader for only $79 does.

While I can’t necessarily speak too highly of the overall Nook Tablet experience provided by Barnes & Noble compared to that of the Kindle Fire, this is an excellent way to take advantage of low pricing to grab a 7” tablet with a bit of extra power and storage space if you don’t feel like waiting on a Google delivery.  My recommendation would be to wait at least a week while we see what Amazon has in store for their next tablet, which is likely to be priced to match, especially since the Kindle Fire 2 is likely to be officially announced any day now.  If you can’t wait, there are far worse options to choose from than the Nooks.

New Nook Tablet Planned To Match Updated Kindle Fire

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.

Kindle Fire Passed By Nook Tablet in Web Traffic

Right now it is safe to say that the iPad is on top when it comes to tablets.  I’m assuming nobody genuinely thinks anymore that the Kindle Fire was ever about trying to bring down Apple’s device.  It is no surprise then that in a recent analysis of their web traffic impressions, the Chitika Ad Network found that 91% of tablet traffic on the web comes from iPads.

What was somewhat surprising was that for the first time we see the Nook Tablet beating the Kindle Fire in terms of use.  Since May, the Nook has jumped from making up 0.53% of all tablet traffic to accounting for 0.85%.  For just a month, that’s an impressive increase in presence.  The Kindle Fire saw no such increase and even seems to have fallen off slightly in the same period.

What does this mean for the two devices?  Unfortunately this data is hard to draw any real conclusions from.  Lacking any sort of information about data collection, we don’t even know as much about what devices we are talking about.  How much of the Nook’s internet presence comes from people running rooted tablets thanks to simple tools making use of the SD slot, for example?  That matters, since it is essentially a lost customer for B&N when they are selling their hardware at near-cost in order to lock people into their ecosystem.

Even if we assume that those users are completely removed, we are still left with a study that examines only web use.  Anybody who has spent time browsing the internet on either of these devices already knows that while pleasant enough for what it is, the browsing experience a 7” tablet offers will generally fail to impress.

I would be more excited to see information about impressions and click-throughs on advertising in popular apps across multiple platforms.  That would be likely to give us a better understanding of the comparison since just about everybody loads up some Angry Birds or Words With Friends from time to time.

With the iPad still providing about fifty times the traffic of its closest competition this is all really a minor point.  You just can’t expect a small device designed for media consumption to do the same job or generate the same interest as Apple’s more powerful and popular product.  They have nothing to fear from Android tablets in general right now, let alone the budget side of the market.

Clearly this data will be helpful for anybody who is interested in trying to target tablet users specifically when designing a web-based advertising campaign.  For the rest of us, however, there is not enough detail to be worth thinking too much about it.  It would be nice if the Nook Tablet suddenly experienced a huge boost in popularity since Amazon couldn’t help but push back by adding new products or software features, but that isn’t necessarily the case here.

Maybe the next generation of tablets, with Windows 8 competing against the iPad and a Microsoft-backed Nook line providing intense competition for the Kindle Fire, but for now things are pretty much on hold.

Kindle Fire May Finally Face Threat From Nook Tablet

While the Nook Tablet has done moderately well, especially compared to many other budget tablets in the same price range, it has not proven to be the substantial threat to the Kindle Fire that many hoped it would be.  There was never a chance that the new market would make this Nook a Kindle killer, but the fact that competition has been so one-sided thus far is almost disappointing.  While it may not be enough to turn things around entirely, however, Barnes & Noble has done a couple things lately to keep their product line in the game.

Most interesting of these, especially for existing and prospective Nook owners, is the memory reallocation program they have begun.  If somebody has a Nook Tablet with 16GB of storage space, they are now able to go into any Barnes & Noble location and get their internal storage settings changed to allow for 8GB of usable space.  While it is hardly the freedom to use all of the hardware you paid for that many would prefer, 8GB of free space is more than the Kindle Fire offers and definitely more in line with what customers were expecting when they picked up the tablet in the first place.  Including all that storage space and locking customers out of using it was simply a dumb move.

To overcome the price disparity between their own line and Amazon’s, B&N has released an 8GB model that matches the $200 Kindle Fire price.  We’ve been over this a bit in previous posts, but the significance cannot be overlooked since the Nook’s hardware does have several advantages over the Kindle.

Even more important, though less immediately available for analysis, there is reason to believe that the Nook Tablet will beat the Kindle Fire to the UK.  There has been a great deal of anger directed at Amazon over the impressive amount of time they are taking to get their device anywhere outside of the US.  For a company like Barnes & Noble, which has already gained a reputation for having minimal interest in international markets based on eReader sales, this would be quite a coup.  Having the market essentially to itself would be nice for the Nook’s popularity, but the potential for fast-track progress to customer loyalty is even more important.

In the end, the thing that the Kindle Fire has going for it is the same thing it has always had going for it.  Amazon as a backer and the ecosystem they provide.  Barnes & Noble can change their prices, fix their mistakes, and jump ahead in distribution all they want, but they can’t hope to come out on top without matching the Amazon back end.  Whether they are willing to invest the time and effort into doing so, or even have the capability at this point, remains to be seen.  It is always good news for customers when the competition heats up, though, so we can all hope that B&N will follow up these positive efforts with something that will require Amazon to step up their Kindle Fire game a bit in response.