Nook Color update includes app store, Flash capability, Froyo

Nook Color users finally have an app store of their own. Which raises the question: Is the Nook Color a tablet or an e-reader?

Nook Color got a software update this week.

Nook Color –– the in-house e-reader of beleaguered bookstore chain Barnes & Noble –– gets a big software update this week, as well as its own small dedicated app store, stuffed full of applications from Rovio and G1 Games, among other fine purveyors of digital distraction. Included in the Nook Color software update: Adobe Flash capability, the Android 2.2 Froyo operating system, and a built-in email system. (More details here.)

In other words, the Nook Color is becoming less like an e-reader, and a lot more like a full-featured tablet computer. Well, maybe not exactly. "The Nook Color with its new Froyo upgrade is not an iPad –– not even close," writes Gartner analyst Allen Weiner. "But those who are looking for a great cross-media reading device with some nice new multimedia bells and whistles, it remains a go-to device."

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Over at PC World, Jared Newman sees the Nook Color update as a direct broadside against Amazon. "Maybe the color touch screen, reading-oriented tablet is the new battleground for companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble," Newman writes, "who sell cheap hardware in hopes of ensnaring readers in the companies' respective ecosystems.That's certainly the case with the Nook Color, which sells for a modest $249."

As Newman notes, the next move would be Amazon's. Which is where the (not exactly confirmed) Amazon tablet comes into play. Last week, Gdgt's Peter Rojas reported that a touchscreen Amazon tablet –– a competitor of sorts for Apple's iPad –– is "something of an open secret" in the tech industry. Rojas did not mention a release date; he did say the Amazon device would likely be cheaper than the iPad. We believe him.

Tablet user? Prospective tablet user? Nook owner? We want to hear from you –– drop us a line in the comments section below. And in the meantime, if you haven't already, you should sign up for our free weekly Innovation newsletter.

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