When it comes to the e-reader market, there are just a few major players, including the Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader and Apple’s iPad. The Barnes & Noble Nook Color delivers, as one might guess-color content, which isn’t available in its closest competitor, the Kindle. That key element has helped the Nook Color catch on with consumers. It has also helped it give its competition a real fight.
On Apr. 25, Barnes & Noble upped the ante a bit by announcing a major update to the Nook Color, featuring Android 2.2 “Froyo,” and support for Adobe Flash. In addition, the company said that it has opened up a developer program, so firms can develop third-party applications for the combined e-reader-tablet.
With this new update, many more people in the market for an e-reader or tablet are wondering which device they should buy. They want to know if the Nook Color really is the best option, thanks to Froyo, or if they should opt for something else.
Though not every customer is the same, for the average person, opting for a Kindle or iPad is a much better choice right now.
Read on to find out why.
1. It doesn’t seem focused.
Now that the Nook Color is running Froyo, consumers might be a little confused. Is it still an e-reader with tablet-like features or a tablet with e-reader features? Worst of all, is it both an e-reader and tablet mixed into one? Until Barnes & Noble can figure out what the Nook Color is first and foremost, and properly communicate that to customers, most consumers will likely stick with what they know-the iPad or the Kindle.
2. Is Froyo really best?
When talk first surfaced last year that tablet makers would soon deliver Android tablets running Froyo, Google quickly followed with its own admission that Android 2.2 just wasn’t ready for tablets. That’s the main reason vendors waited until Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” to release their devices. Now, the Nook Color is running Froyo. Thus, potential buyers must really consider whether the device is best-suited for an operating system that’s designed with smartphones in mind.
3. The iPad has apps from other stores.
One of the main reasons many customers choose the iPad 2 over the Barnes & Noble Nook Color is that it delivers the best selection of books. Aside from Apple’s iBooks selection, consumers can also download the free Kindle or Barnes & Noble applications and get titles through those services. The same can’t be said for the Barnes & Noble Nook Color.
4. The Kindle offers an outstanding reading experience.
As anyone who has owned an Amazon Kindle knows, reading on the device is quite pleasant. The device’s e-ink technology is second to none when it comes to reading, and dealing with eye fatigue is hardly an issue. The Nook Color offers a nice reading experience, as well, but it can’t quite match the Kindle. And until it does, consumers might be better off looking elsewhere for their e-reading needs.
Nook Lacks Versatility, App Support
5. Want color? Get the iPad.
When it comes to color, Barnes & Noble’s option easily trumps the Kindle. But the same can’t be said for the iPad 2. That device has a fantastic screen that offers the kind of vibrant colors consumers are after. Those who are looking for the best display in the e-reader market will find the most to like from Apple’s tablet.
6. Consider the feature set.
Barnes & Noble was quick to point out April 25 that the Nook Color now offers several important updates, including email. That’s a nice addition. However, those who own the iPad 2 will get much more than what’s offered in the Nook Color. And best of all, those built-in applications, which include email and Web browsing, are far more polished on the iPad 2 than they are on the Nook Color running “Froyo.”
7. Other apps abound on the iPad.
As of this writing, the Nook Color offers consumers the ability to download about 125 applications to extend the functionality of that device. Considering the iPad 2 comes with access to Apple’s App Store, which has 65,000 tablet applications and over 350,000 applications in total, it’s easy to see why consumers would opt for Apple’s tablet over any other when they want to extend the usability of a device.
8. Size matters.
The Nook Color features a 7-inch display. For some, that might be a good thing, since they can easily pop the device into a purse or bag, and go about their day. But consider the fact that those who want to be more mobile can opt for the 6-inch Kindle. Moreover, consider the fact that those who want a big, rich display can get that with the iPad 2’s 9.7-inch screen or the Kindle DX’s 9.7-inch display. If size really matters to consumers, Barnes & Noble doesn’t necessarily hold the high ground.
9. Price considerations
Barnes & Noble is quick to point out that its Nook Color delivers the “best value” in the marketplace, retailing for $249. At first glance, it might be tough to argue with that logic. The iPad 2, for example, starts at $499. However, when one considers that there is much more available to them in the iPad 2, including a bigger display, more applications and the opportunity to access several different book stores, the price is put into perspective. In addition, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that Amazon is now offering a version of its 6-inch Kindle for just $114.
10. The Barnes & Noble name
If the Nook Color has any disadvantage, it’s the company that produces it. Apple is a highly touted and well-trusted brand in the tech space. Amazon is, too. However, Barnes & Noble is still viewed by most as a bookseller that’s trying its luck in the hardware market. That’s holding the Nook Color back. Until Barnes & Noble can redefine its brand, it’s tough to see how the Nook Color will be able to overcome the iPad or the Kindle over the long term.