Barnes & Noble subsidiary Nook Media, which markets the company’s line of tablets, announced it is expanding its catalog of reading and entertainment content with the addition of the Google Play digital content experience on its Nook HD and Nook HD+ devices.
Google Play and a host of other Google services will be available for all new and existing Nook customers in the United States and United Kingdom at no cost through an automatic over-the-air update that will roll out to all devices connected to WiFi beginning May 3.
With access to Google Play, consumers can view more than 700,000 Android apps and games and millions of songs. The tablets will now also come with Google services such as the Chrome browser, Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps. Customers can also synchronize bookmarks across any device with Chrome.
Other features on the tablets include Nook Profiles, a personalized experience that transforms the device in hand to any other user’s own tablet so only they can see their own content, Nook Channels, a recommendation system that provides an easy way to discover new titles by theme, and the ability to sync the last page read on any Nook book across devices and apps so readers don't lose their place.
The Nook tablets also offer expandable memory and free unlimited Nook Cloud storage for all Nook content, adjustable fonts, spacing and themes for a customized reading experience, dual-core processors and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth capability.
The Nook HD, now with Google Play, is available starting at $199 and the Nook HD+ starts at $269. The products are available at the nearly 700 Barnes & Noble stores, the company’s Website and other retailers.
"By adding Google Play to Nook HD and Nook HD+, we are offering our customers even more great entertainment on our award-winning tablets," William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble, said in a statement. "Now with access to more than 700,000 apps and the best reading experience available, Nook HD and Nook HD+ are must-see products for entertainment lovers looking for high-quality tablets at incredibly low prices."
The company’s Nook tablet has been struggling as it competes against other devices like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and low-cost tablets from Google and other manufacturers. Earlier this year the company acknowledged “low device unit volume” over the holiday season and poor sales, although the company says it is committed to the hardware and is focusing on cutting manufacturing costs as well as slashing consumer prices.
Along with the announcement of Google Play and other Google services, Barnes & Noble also launched a promotion for its U.K. customers that sees prices drop to £129 ($200), down from £159 ($250), for the Nook HD, and with the Nook HD+ starting at £179 ($280), down from £229 ($350).