It looks like Microsoft is taking the kid gloves off, and putting on the 'sue everyone gloves'. The software giant has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Seattle and the International Trade Commission alleging that Android, as implemented by Barnes and Noble in the Nook, infringes on Microsoft-held patents. This isn't Redmond's first volley against the little green robot, but it might be the start of a new trend.
Barnes and Noble this week reported its fiscal 2011 third quarter financial results, which as you might imagine is filled with numbers, but one stands out more than the rest. According to B&N, the Nook platform now accounts for a quarter of the eBook market in the U.S. Does it really? We're not sure.
It's a game of one-upmanship between Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Earlier this week, Amazon announced its third-generation Kindle is now the best selling product in the company's history, and not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble is saying the same thing about its Nook eBook reader.
"With millions of Nook eReading devices sold, the line has become [Barnes and Noble's] biggest bestseller ever in its nearly 40-year history," B&N said. "The new NookColor Reader's Tablet, introduced just eight weeks before Christmas, is the company's number one selling gift of the holiday season."
In addition, B&N said that even as its physical book business continues to grow, it now sells more digital copies than it does of the dead tree versions. On Christmas day alone, B&N logged more than 1 million eBook sales.
It had to happen eventually, the irony is just too delicious. The intrepid Android hacking community had managed to get the Amazon Kindle app running on a rooted Nook Color. Now user that don't mind a bit of legwork can get books from Amazon's expansive store on this device intended only for Barnes and Noble content.
Interested users will need to grab one of the Nook Autorooter images, and an image writer program to get the necessary file onto the SD card. This process loads Google apps on the device including Gmail, YouTube, and the Market. The Kindle app can be pulled right from the Market and used on the Nook. Modders are reporting the Nook Color is proving to be an excellent Android hacking environment.
We're excited to see what the community comes up with for the Nook Color next. Maybe some Gingerbread? Given the progress being made turning the Nook Color into a real tablet, are you more likely to buy one?
Barnes and Noble is slated to hold a Nook event on October 26, and we're hearing rumblings of a major hardware revision. The new Nook, according to a source that spoke with Cnet, may have a full color touchscreen in place of the monochrome eInk display it currently uses. The screen would be 7-inches, and the device would retail for $249. The Nook would continue to be based on Android as well.
The Amazon Kindle ereader has seemingly stuck to the eInk route for the time being, and Barnes and Noble may be looking to blow past them technologically. Missing is any information on what type of screen technology the 'Nook Color" would be using. A standard LCD, like the iPad uses, comes with its own set of drawbacks. The color eInk-like Mirasol and PixelQi dispalys have been demoed, but no one has foreseen their use in ereaders so soon.
With Amazon looking to sell you a Kindle for $140, will consumers pay more for a color screen? The $500 price point of the iPad also creates an interesting barrier. Those willing to deal with LCD screens for reading might be willing to pay more for the iPad's increased functionality. What's your prediction for the announcement?
In a blog post on Monday, Barnes and Noble revealed it's getting ready to release its "biggest update" to the Nook since it was launched a year ago. The 1.5 update is said to "dramatically increase" page turn speed on both the Nook 3G and Wi-Fi, as well as add other performance enhancements and features to the mix.
"The 1.5 update includes improved search on the device, customized B&N Library organization and password protection," Barnes and Noble said. "It also includes the ability to sync across all Nook and all devices enabled with our free Nook apps, by syncing your last page read. If you forget your Nook at home, use the Nook app for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android smartphone or PC to pick up where you left off. And, the next time you pick up your Nook, the Reading Now page will be updated and ready to go."
Barnes and Noble said it plans to kick out the update in late November via Wi-Fi or manual download at www.nook.com/support.
Mega book chain Barnes and Noble this week announced NOOKstudy, a free online reading and study platform for college students. Described as the "ultimate study tool," NOOKstudy allows students to manage their eBooks, class materials, and notes in a single place.
"NOOKstudy is a big win for college students: it will not only lighten their backpacks, but also help them save money and study more efficiently," said Tracey Weber, EVP, Textbooks and Digital Eduction, Barnes & Noble.com. "NOOKstudy is a revolutionary approach to learning that offers students access to the reading and organizational tools they need, across all content sources and formats, enabling them to study smarter, not harder."
B&N said the NOOKstudy platform represents "extensive feedback" from students, professors, and administrators alike. With NOOKstudy, students are able to view multiple books and sources at the same time while also accessing complementary content, like toolsets, reference materials, and so forth.
The Kindle, like the Nook, has free 3G wireless data and an eInk screen. Barnes and Noble also announced a cheaper Wi-Fi only model, but it sells for $150. That's only $40 less than the new Kindle price point. The Nook's new pricing tiers are clearly predicated on the Kindle being stuck at $260.
Overall, this is great for consumers. The eReader price war has finally begun, and not a moment too soon. We've always felt that these devices were far too expensive for what they do. Does the new Kindle price change the equation for you?
If you were waiting for the ebook reader wars to get a lot more interesting, it just happened. Throwing a one-two combo punch at Amazon, Barnes and Noble today cut the cost of its 3G Nook ereader (KERPOW!) and also introduced a new Wi-Fi only model at a comparatively bargain basement price (BAM!).
The 3G Nook now sells for $199, which according to B&N makes it the market's first under-$200 dedicated full-featured ebook reader offering both free 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity options in one. And while B&N can spin this one however it see fits, at less than two Benjamins, and $60 less than Amazon's Kindle, the price point speaks for itself.
And what about the new Wi-Fi only model? That will only set you back $149 and includes all the same features as the regular Nook, sans 3G. At that price point, B&N is likely to attract users who previously might have been on the fence because of the well documented speed issues. Equally important, these new prices put B&N in a much better position to compete with Apple's iPad and every other tablet that's due to come out.
Bookseller Barnes and Noble is starting to hand out free coffee to encourage the use of their e-book software. For the duration of the limited time promotion, customers need only show a cafe server an open e-book running the Barnes and Noble software. This will net the user one free tall coffee. Devices qualifying for the promotion are iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, Blackberry phones, the HTC HD2, Windows/Mac computers, and of course the Nook.
Barnes and Noble is in a race to catch up to the Kindle's lead in the e-book space, but the iPad may have them both beaten. If the tide turns against the monochrome eInk screens, these multiplatform apps are the bookseller's best hope.
Barnes and Noble has also been offering access to special content on the Nook that can be downloaded while in the store. They also allow Nook owners to read selected books for free, one hour per day, while in the store. Do these sorts of promotions make you want to live in the Barnes and Noble e-book ecosystem?