On Monday New York based Barnes and Noble unveiled their latest tablet called the Nook Tablet that will directly compete against Amazon’s new Kindle Fire, soon to be released on November 15th and costing only $199.00.
Priced fifty dollars higher at $249.00 Barnes and Noble’s Nook Tablet will be available on November 18th. The Nook Tablet comes equipped with some added features such as 16 gigabytes of built-in memory, twice the memory of the Kindle Fire, plus the ability to store more on a removable memory card. The Nook Tablet is also pre-loaded with apps from Netflix and Hulu Plus to stream movies and TV shows, and Pandora’s Internet-radio app for music. The Nook Tablet has a slightly longer battery life and is lighter than the Kindle Fire. Barnes and Noble will offer tech support for the Nook in their stores if there is a need for technical support.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire is the next step for Amazon as it seeks to dominate in the digital reading market that is expected to jump in the months ahead. Amazon has already cultivated a devoted following of e-readers with their previous Kindles. The new Kindle Fire will provide Amazon users with full access to Amazon’s large and impressive app store in addition to their streaming library with movies and T.V programs from Amazon Prime. There is also music availability with Amazon’s MP3.
The Kindle Fire comes equipped with 8 GB of memory and free cloud storage with Amazon content. New buyers of the Kindle Fire receive one free month of Amazon Prime, allowing for a free month of streaming video or T.V. shows, free book lending, and discounted shipping prices ($2.00) on all Amazon orders. After the first free month, Amazon Prime membership costs $79.00 for a full year subscription.
The Kindle Fire uses Amazon’s Silk web browser which utilizes cloud power to make web surfing even faster than the speed from a dual-core processor. If you’re using a slow WiFi network, this could be of great use.
Amazon and Barnes and Noble are competing for a share in the tablet market which is dominated by Apple’s I-Pad. The Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet are both smaller in size at 7 inches compared to the 9 inch I-Pad and priced much lower than the I-Pad’s starting price of $499.00.
Apple does not currently pose to be a big threat among digital consumers who are oriented around books. Apple’s library is already much small than Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s book libraries.
Barnes and Noble’s new tablet investment comes at a critical time in the company’s history when their retail stores have come under increasing pressure from other larger retail companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Costco that have all managed to chip away at their book market share. Borders Bookstore filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after failing to maintain their profit margins and manage their overhead expenses that come from operating bricks and mortar retail stores.
Despite some of the challenges ahead, some investment groups are betting that Barnes and Noble has better days ahead.
Last summer, Liberty Media run by John Malone bought preferred stock convertible into roughly 12 million Barnes & Noble shares at $17 a piece, allowing it to have about a 17 percent stake in the company and two seats on the board. Liberty Media’s $ 204 million investment in Barnes and Noble gave the company more capital to develop its soon to be released Nook Tablet. The stakes are now running high. Barnes and Nobles shares are currently trading around $11.39 per share as of today.
During Barnes and Noble’s presentation on Monday in New York, CEO William Lynch spent considerable time comparing and drawing sharp contrasts with the Nook Tablet compared to the Kindle Fire. Lynch even claimed that the Nook Tablet was a better tablet at the presentation and then a second time during an interview with Julianne Pepitone from CNN Money.
“We have been working on the product a long time and it made sense to tell people why its better than the Kindle Fire” Lynch said.
Next week as the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire will be released and available for purchase, many consumers are expected to be drawn to these smaller new tablets because of their portability and lower price tag compared to the higher priced and higher premium I-Pad.
Other tablet makers such as Samsung (Galaxy), Motorola (Xoom), Research and Motion (Playbook), and Lenovo (Think Pad) which operate their tablets with Android’s operating system, will be watching closely as they seek to gain greater market dominance in a growing tablet market where competition is beginning to heat up during the upcoming holiday season.