By Quentin Fottrell
Barnes & Noble says its new Nook Tablet outmatches the Amazon’s Kindle Fire on everything except price.
Unveiled this morning, the new device costs $249 – that’s $50 more expensive than the Kindle Fire, although still half the cost of an entry-level iPad. Barnes & Noble makes the case that the Nook is worth the extra $50, but analysts are not so sure. “It’s not groundbreaking,” says Peter Wahlstrom, senior analyst with Morningstar research. “But the difference in price and services on the Nook Tablet is enough to give customers pause for thought.”
In its favor, the Nook has 16 gigabytes of memory or twice the memory than the eight-gigabyte Kindle Fire (six gigabytes of which are only available to customers for storage), and comes with Hulu Plus and Netflix apps pre-loaded – although users still need to pay for subscriptions. It also has one gigabyte of RAM – or random access memory – versus 512 megabytes for the Kindle Fire. It also has free in-store customer support, and has nine hours of battery life, versus approximately eight for the Kindle Fire.
Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch tells Pay Dirt that the Nook’s speed and screen resolution are significantly greater to warrant the extra $50. “This experience has a substantially better display than the Kindle,” he says. “The Kindle’s user experience at 512 [megabytes] can be choppy. You can also walk into your neighborhood Barnes & Noble for customer service.” Amazon was immediately unavailable for comment.
But most customers will be concerned more with content than memory and megabytes, experts believe. “It looks like a very compelling device, but that $50 is going to matter a lot,” says Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at research firm Gartner Inc. “It’s more about how much content will be available.”
Nook is ahead on news content with 250 magazines and newspapers, but Amazon has a “more complete ecosystem” far beyond books, he says. “In some cases it’s going to come down to what you want to do with that device and how well those companies market their devices,” Gartenberg says.
It’s a win-win for consumers given the price range for tablets, experts say, especially with the more basic black-and-white e-readers on the market for under $100 (Kindle at $79 and Nook at $99). Apple’s iPad 2, in case you need reminding, starts at a whopping $499. As for eating into other tablets’ market share, “We’re not trying to steal anything from anybody,” Lynch says. “We created this hybrid media reader category.”