Amazon has taken the wraps off a couple of new developments that are sure to please Kindle owners. The first is that Kindle periodicals will soon be readable on all of the platforms Amazon endorses. Owners of the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch will now have another option when it comes to picking up the latest magazines and newspapers. Much more important, however, is the announcement that Amazon is instituting a lending feature for the Kindle.
Straight from the discussion board: “Second, later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.”
As exciting as this is for the Kindle faithful, the first question that came to my mind was – What tricks can Barnes & Noble possibly have up their sleeve to get out from under this one?
In addition to featuring the Nook in Barnes & Noble retail stores, B&N also inked a deal that would put Nooks into Best Buy stores across the country. Amazon inks deals to get the Kindle not only in retailers Best Buy and Target, but they’re a default app on Verizon phones.
Barnes & Noble pioneered the LendMe feature, which allowed users to lend books to friends for 14 days, reflecting the common practice of book owners. Amazon has now, finally, trumped that with the announcement of a lending feature of their own.
The Nook still has a number of little tricks not yet matched by the Kindle. It allows for the use of SD cards for expanded memory, permits the use of the cross-platform-friendly ePub file format, and sports that nifty LCD screen for navigation.
Is that enough to overcome the Kindle’s advantage in book quantity, price, hardware, and brand recognition? Time is running out for Barnes & Noble’s erstwhile eReader. Here’s hoping they’re able to breathe some new life into the brand with the introduction of Nook Color.
Barnes & Noble has cast what could well be their final die in the eReader wars with the announcement of the NOOKcolor. With Amazon looking to corner the market on low-cost eInk eReaders, Apple dominating the high-end tablet space, and additional competitors like the new 7″ Google tablet T-Mobile offers entering the market, the big book retailer is going to try and walk the line and hope that consumers follow them.
It’s certainly an interesting choice, and not one that many gadget gurus would have predicted. Built on the Android development platform, the NOOKcolor eschews the eInk technology that has dominated the eReader space until now for a full-color touch-display.
“With NOOKcolor, we’ve combined the functionality and convenience of a 7-inch portable wireless tablet with the reader-centricity of a dedicated eReader, and employed a breakthrough color screen technology that will wow customers,” said William Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble.
Owners of Apple’s iPad would likely greet such a statement with skepticism, since the iPad is capable of that and much more. The difference, for consumers, is going to be the relatively reasonable $249 price tag.
While the NOOKcolor is definitely an exciting new entrant into the product space, especially in time for the holidays, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered:
• Barnes & Noble is using a laminated touch screen for the NOOKcolor – will this offer users anywhere near the same visibility in bright light that the Nook and Kindle enjoy, or will it suffer the same problems in that environment as the iPad?
• The NOOKcolor features a full web browser, but no Flash support. Will they be able to offer some sort of work-around, much like the iPad does, so users can use killer web apps like Youtube?
• A big part of the NOOKcolor push is the expanded NOOK kids experience, featuring full-color children’s books. Are parents willing to dish out $249 for their kids in this economic climate?
The NOOKcolor is currently available for preorder at NOOKcolor.com. We’ll have full first-hand impressions for you when it debuts on November 19.