NEW Nook Tablet: Barnes & Noble To Take Another Swing At Amazon

Posted by · February 20, 2012 10:32 am

After an outstanding debut year, Amazon’s Kindle Fire is clearly the bargain tablet to beat. And given Amazon’s wealth of content assets to support the tablet, catching the frontrunner will be no easy feat. Nevertheless, new information leaked to The Verge says that Barnes & Noble is taking steps toward challenging the popular Amazon tablet.

According to the report, Barnes & Noble is planning to release a new version of its Nook Tablet. In order to appeal to the budget tablet market that Amazon was able to dominate with the Kindle Fire last year, Barnes & Noble will release an 8GB tablet of its own. By cutting storage down to half that of its Nook Tablet, the company will likely be able to offer the new tablet closer to the $199 price tag of the Kindle Fire.

Perhaps the most surprising detail of the report, though, is the new Nook Tablet’s release date—this Wednesday! In a mere two days, the 8GB tablet will become available, pitting the arsenals of the two book giants against each other.

“All we know for sure is that Walmart plans to launch this new device at 12:01AM on Wednesday, February the 22nd, and deliveries of the 8GB Tablet should be arriving in stores already,” the report concluded.

While it may be easy to think that a much-needed price reduction will make the B&N tablet business more competitive with Amazon’s Kindle line, chances are the focus will simply switch from price to what Chris Velazco of TechCrunch called the “media ecosystem” that supports their respective devices. Should the new Nook Tablet turn out to be just as affordable as the Kindle Fire—which has been rumored to have a new version of its own on coming soon—the pressure will still be on Barnes & Noble to make its content offerings more appealing than the vast media selection available to Amazon users.

Given the way that Amazon and B&N have developed their tablets—primarily as gateways to their respective content stores—continued investment in the tablets themselves will eventually begin yielding diminishing returns for both companies. That is, price advantage is only one dimension of this rivalry. In the long term, the appeal of both of these bargain tablets as more desirable alternatives to Apple’s iPad or the plethora of Android tablets ultimately depends on the strength of the respective “ecosystems” that support them.