The Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet was announced on Monday at press conference held a Barnes & Noble store in lower Manhattan. The Nook Tablet, which is the second generation of the company's popular e-reader tablet, is being priced at $249, not $199 like its main competitor, the Amazon Kindle Fire.
Processing power and storage capacity set the Nook Tablet apart from the Amazon Kindle Fire in a significant way. The capabilities of the Nook Tablet's hardware trump the Kindle Fire in almost every category. In several instances, or technical specifications, the Nook Tablet is twice as powerful as the Amazon Kindle Fire.
The Nook Tablet uses a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, runs for 11.5 hours (nine hours of video playback) and weights under a pound (14.1 ounces). In addition to its quick processor and ample RAM, the Nook Tablet will be equipped with 16GB of internal storage and includes a Micro-SD Card slot that will allow users to expand storage by 32GB.
The Nook Tablet's 48GB of maximum storage is six times the Amazon Kindle Fire's maximum storage, which is just 8GB of internal memory and does not include an expansion slot. Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch lauded the storage capacity of the Nook Tablet and said that 8GB (referring to the Kindle Fire) just wasn't enough for a media tablet.
You don't always want to be connected to the cloud, said Lynch as he revealed the storage capacity.
Lynch touted several attributes of the newest member of the Nook family, the Nook Tablet, but more than anything, he seemed most proud that Barnes & Noble will provide consumers with the world's largest digital bookstore, which offers more than 2.5 million books, newspapers, magazines and other digital reading formats.
In addition, Nook Newsstand, the Barnes & Noble digital media marketplace, offers the largest selection of top 100 selling magazines according to a company press release. Lynch said the Nook Newsstand will have partnerships will Conde Nast, Time Inc. and Meredith, three of the largest traditional publishers in the country, and will make publications from those companies available on the Nook Tablet by the holiday season.
The Nook Newsstand will also have the largest digital collection of Marvel Comics. Lynch made no mention of Hearst Corp., publisher of magazines such as Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Popular Mechanics and several other national magazine titles, during the announcement.
One of the key differences between Barnes & Noble's business strategy for its e-reader tablets and Amazon's business strategy for its e-reader tablets is that Barnes & Noble is outsourcing several parts of its multimedia playback.
Though the company has the largest digital book selection, it will be looking to third party sources such as Netflix and Pandora to provide other forms of media entertainment on the Nook Tablet. Contrastingly, Amazon is trying to get consumers to purchase media from the Amazon Appstore on the Kindle Fire.
[The Amazon Kindle Fire] is a vending machine for Amazon services, said Lynch. [Amazon is] trying to lock consumers into their ecosystem.
[Barnes & Noble is] going to partner with the best-of-breed brands in other services, said Lynch.
While the technical specifications of the Nook Tablet looked great, the only truly new feature that has been added to the company's tablet e-reader device is the addition of a microphone.
With the added microphone, consumers can read a story aloud, record their voice and have the story read back in their recorded voice as pages are turned. Lynch was proud to show off his rendition of Winnie the Pooh, which he read, recorded and played back to the audience. He described the feature as being useful to children who want to hear their parents read a book to them, even when their parents can't be there. The feature, which is called Read To Me, was displayed several times in the Barnes & Noble store after the announcement. It's clear that the company sees recorded narration as an important addition to the tablet.
The Nook Tablet has Wi-Fi, no Bluetooth and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The tablet also includes a feature called the Nook Cloud that will allow customers to sync their library, last page read, bookmarks, notes and highlights across multiple devices. Amazon provides this type of service, among others services, on its own servers for the Kindle Fire. Barnes & Noble will have to rely on third party developers, such as Netflix and Pandora, to provide high-powered cloud-based functions.
Though the device will not be able to run all the applications in the Android Market, several developers are working with Barnes & Noble to make applications optimized for the device's 7-inch screen including companies such as Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds. Thousands of developers will have released software built specifically for the device upon launch of the product.
While the price difference between the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet and Amazon Kindle Fire is may seem significant, Lynch remains confident that the Nook Tablet will perform well during the holiday season.
The additional [storage space] alone is worth 20 dollars, said Lynch. He went on to talk about the upgraded screen and increase in RAM, which he believes will drive sales.
We're on pace to generate $1.8 billion in revenue from a business that was [once] just a PowerPoint slide, said Lynch, referring to the original Nook Color, which was, in many ways, the first e-reader to embrace LCD-screen technology rather than e-ink. We're ahead of our projections.
The announcement comes just before the surge in holiday shopping, Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, which is typically the beginning of holiday shopping. The Kindle Fire will go on sale to its first pre-orders on November 15. The Nook tablet will be available on November 18.