Android Tablets: Can Nook Tablet Counter Amazon Kindle Fire?
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Barnes and Noble must be enamored with Amazon’s business model. Indeed, Barnes and Noble has just announced the Nook Tablet — a device that apparently targets the Kindle Fire‘s core markets. Will the Nook Tablet stack up. And more importantly: what is going on with Barnes and Noble?
If you haven’t noticed, Barnes and Noble has been selling a lot more than books on their website. Just check out the home electronics section. You can buy everything from ceiling fans to vacuums. Sounds a lot like how you can buy nearly anything you need from Amazon.com, too.
Add in the brand new Nook Tablet, priced at $249, and you’ve got yourself a near doppelgänger (in theory). The Nook Tablet runs a custom version of Android developed by B&N, but will also support Android apps via the Nook storefront. Old reliables like Angry Birds, Netflix and more apparently will run just fine.
Like Amazon, the 7-inch Nook Tablet has a ecosystem of multimedia, news and text sources. And like the Kindle Fire, it comes outfitted with a 1GHz dual core CPU, but beats out the Kindle Fire in on:
- board storage space and RAM (8GB/512MB for Kindle vs. 16GB/1GB for Nook Tablet);
- battery life (8 hours for Kindle Fire vs. nearly 12 hours for Nook Tablet); and
- weight (Nook tablet is lighter and thinner).
The Nook Tablet doesn’t have fancy features like the Amazon Silk web browser, and it costs $50 more than the Kindle Fire. But outside the speed-bumps (which may not affect device performance, as Apple has shown). the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire essentially are the same devices designed for the same purposes: Consumption of media and access to a plethora of entertainment sources.
This Could Get Personal
This could be a true Battle Royale. According to Ars Technica, Barnes and Noble CEO William Lynch called out Amazon on the Kindle Fire, saying it was “a vending machine for Amazon’s services,” while the Nook hooked into existing services like Hulu and Netflix. But that’s not to say Amazon won’t open that stuff up in the future.
The real question is: Which ecosystem will win out? If Apple and iTunes have shown us anything, it’s that users just want to get at their content as quickly and easily as possible. The war between Amazon and Barnes and Noble might not even begin until a couple months into the product launches, when users can find out which device really appeals to them, regardless of what apps and services are initially included. Both devices are slated for a mid-2011 November releases, so early user feedback should surface soon.
My guess is this: Amazon will win out, not just because of the company’s size and dominance, but because of Amazon’s work with the operating system. B&N’s Nook Tablet runs an updated version of B&N’s initial Android-based Nook OS. If the software is anything like the original Nook, there’s more Android in there than B&N innovation. I’m willing to bet Amazon has done a lot more homework with the Fire. Within Amazon’s device, Android exists only in spirit inside the kernel. Amazon’s efforts typically ensure a truly unique and friendly content consumption environment.
The exciting part is that it’s truly anyone’s game. I wouldn’t count B&N down for the count at all. If the Nook Tablet catches on, it could shift the mobile marketplace in unpredictable way and open the doors for more completely custom Android tablets to arrive on the scene.