Barnes & Noble is taking on Amazon and its Kindle Fire tablet by expanding its lineup of Nook e-readers to include a lighter, faster, 7-inch color touchscreen device called the Nook Tablet, according to documents obtained by Engadget.
The Nook Tablet, which will retail for $249, closely resembles the Nook Color but has beefed-up specifications. It comes with a dual core processor, 16 GB of storage — twice that of both the Nook Color and the Kindle Fire — and weighs in at just 14.1 ounces.
The supped-up touchscreen e-reader and tablet hybrid appears to start shipping on November 16 — just one day after the Kindle Fire’s shipping date — with pre-orders beginning on November 7, following the company’s scheduled Nook press event in New York.
With a price point $50 more than Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and a launch schedule that appears a bit rushed following Amazon’s splashy Fire reveal a few weeks ago, what will make the Nook Tablet stand out among an expanding group of e-readers and tablets? The leaked documents tout "twice the selection" of applications, "twice the power" and "twice the built-in memory," but that’s unlikely to sound groundbreaking to the average consumer.
With the release of the Nook Tablet, the price of the Nook Color will be reduced to $199 from $249.
Already, Amazon is expected to sell as many as 5 million of its new Kindle Fire tablets before the end of 2011.
JPMorgan analyst Douglas Anmuth stated in a research note he thinks the e-commerce company can move 5 million of the Android-based units during Q4.
The 7-inch color, touchscreen, email-fetching, app-running, web-browsing gadget sells for $199, making it the perfect downmarket competitor to the iPad 2, which starts at $499.
And for gift-giving holiday shoppers, the Fire and its ilk (such as the Kobo Vox and Nook Color) represent a great compromise between flashy functionality and recession-friendly pricing.
The highly anticipated Fire will be available for sale starting November 15. On the day of the Kindle Fire announcement, Amazon took 95,000 pre-orders for the gadget. The original Nook Color is on sale now. Kobo started shipping Vox units last month.
For contrast, Apple sold around 4.7 million iPad units in the second quarter, when its iPad 2 launched. The company stated it was selling the units as fast as it could make them.
While the Fire is more consumer-friendly in its pricing, it also faces more competition in its vertical and price range than does the iPad. Between the Nook and Kobo competing products, the new breed of color, touchscreen e-readers are mighty similar to tablets in their functionality, and it would be difficult to say which of the three is best in class.
Anmuth also predicted consumers will see multiple Kindle Fire variants next year, including 7-inch and 10-inch models and 3G connectivity options.