Barnes & Noble is looking to reclaim some of the ground they lost to Amazon by turbo-charging their Nook designs. The new tablets are supposed to capture the market just below the iPad (info for Nook HD here).
I own a Nook Color, purchased a few years ago (shocking how out-of-date it already is). I thought it would be more fun to read books on a color device and it was a bonus to be able to check my email. In reality it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. The email didn’t sync easily with my accounts (I use gmail so it should have been easy) and reading books didn’t work with the glare (even in low light). I bought a lot of accessories to make it easier (an anti-glare screen cover, a rubber sleeve to keep it from getting banged up) and gave it to my 1 yo daughter. One thing that worked beautifully were the children’s books and apps I downloaded for her. Both the size and the control she has over it make it a great choice. Problem solved as to what to do with an overpriced gadget.
I’m skeptical about The Nook HD being comparable to the iPad or the Kindle Fire (to be fair William J. Lynch, the chief executive of Barnes & Noble, said they were not trying to go head-to-head with the iPad and they are aiming the the space in the market just below). The iPad is the high end part of the market. They’ve set the bar high. They have an enormous amount of apps that allow the user to do anything from check email to draw to edit videos. The Kindle Fire has all of Amazon’s content (books, movies, TV) to make it worth your while. Even Wal-Mart is threatened by the Kindle Fire and how easy Amazon makes it to purchase content directly from their interface, cutting out the middle man. So unless Barnes & Noble can compete on that level, I think this is going to be another expensive gadget that doesn’t do much for the user. And what does that mean for Barnes & Nobles bottom line? How long can they try to edge into the market that Amazon is carving for themselves before they say it’s a losing battle?