Amazon, Barnes & Noble Tablets should be Holiday Stars
Apple’s popular iPad -- the undisputed champ of tablets with nearly three-quarters of the market -- may soon have some serious competition from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
New tablets from the online retailer and bookstore chain are expected to arrive shortly, just in time for the holiday shopping rush. Neither company -- each a major player in the e-book/e-reader market -- has announced a new slate. But persistent buzz says the launches are imminent.
How imminent? Well, Amazon has scheduled a media event in New York City on September 28, and Barnes & Noble may unveil a new version of its Nook Color device within a month, according to the latest reports.
Both the Amazon and B&N tablets are Android-based, but it's likely that neither vendor will make a big deal of the underlying OS -- which is smart, because most tablet buyers probably won't care. The focus, rather, will be on the devices' usability and their easy access to popular content: books, games, music, videos, and apps.
Gift buyers may like what they see in the new Amazon and B&N tablets, particularly if rumors about the devices' sizes, specs, and prices hold true. And if the new slates cost around $250 -- half the price of the entry-level iPad -- they'll appeal to consumers who find the larger iPad too pricey.
One Nook or Two? A new rumor says B&N will introduce not one, but two Nook Color tablets.
Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader blog reported Friday that the bookseller will debut two models next month: the $249 Encore (similar to today's Nook Color); and the $349 Acclaim. The information reportedly comes from a slide used in a B&N planning meeting, an internal document that Hoffelder says his unnamed source asked him not to post.
Assuming the Encore model has a 7-inch color display, what features might the Acclaim add to warrant a higher price? Perhaps an iPad-size display -- 9.7 inches or larger. The $349 Acclaim could prove an appealing, more affordable alternative to Apple's tablet.
Earlier this month, Taiwanese trade publication Digitimes reported that B&N would launch a next-generation Nook Color this month. That's looking increasingly unlikely, however, as September is almost over. Citing those ever-shadowy unnamed industry sources, Digitimes says the new Nook would incorporate more tablet-like functionality, including e-mail, music, games, and other apps.
Meanwhile, Amazon's upcoming tablet reportedly has a 7-inch color screen, runs a modified version of Android, and features deep hooks into Amazon's online stores. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until Wednesday for the spec-by-spec lowdown.
Amazon and Barnes & Noble will have other Android tablets to compete with, including the 7-inch Lenovo IdeaPad, a $199 Android tablet priced $50 less than today's $249 Nook Color. But their marketing savvy and loyal eReader user base will give them an advantage as the holiday rush gets underway.
For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.