Thursday, May 05, 2011

Barnes & Noble Plans New E-Reader To Stay Competitive

Barnes & Noble has informed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the giant book retailer will release information concerning the launch of a new e-reader on May 24. No further details were provided in the financial filing, and the company didn't immediately respond to a request for further details.
Some industry observers think Barnes & Noble intends to introduce an e-reader based on Honeycomb -- Google's Android 3.0 platform for web tablets. That speculation is based on the retailer's recent rollout of a software Relevant Products/Services upgrade Relevant Products/Services for the nook color that gives the e-reader tablet-like e-mail access as well as Adobe Flash playback capabilities.
However, Forrester Research Vice President James McQuivey is anticipating something that would be considerably less flashy but would enable Barnes & Noble to keep pace with the latest Kindle price cuts that rival announced last month. "This will probably be a slimmer version of the E Ink nook, with some improvements in software, page turn times, and user experience -- all at a cheaper price than before, closer to $129," McQuivey said Thursday in an e-mail.
Riding Apple's Coattails
According to IDC, e-reader shipments rose 325 percent year over year to 12.8 million units in 2010, in part by hitching a ride on intense interest in Apple's iPad. The strong growth reflects a more competitive environment Relevant Products/Services, "as well as widening interest in the category -- including a boost from the media-tablet press and much lower pricing," said IDC Vice President Loren Loverde.
This helps explain the strategy behind Barnes & Noble's nook color upgrade, which in addition to an integrated e-mail client and Flash 10.1 support also includes an Android app store as well as an improved user experience through a myriad of tweaks.
"These upgrades make the nook color look more and more like a tablet, with a very attractive $249 price point, to boot," McQuivey explained in a blog late last month. On the other hand, the tablet market is "gradually moving into higher-power Relevant Products/Services features, not lower-power experiences," he added.
The numerous tablet competitors aiming to grab market share Relevant Products/Services from the iPad are pitching products at higher prices and with more powerful features, McQuivey noted. By contrast, the nook color "remains a smaller, less-powerful tablet than the iPad" that is really "about setting a new bar for e-readers," he wrote. (continued...)

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