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.
Barnes & Noble insists the latest Nook Color firmware upgrade (version 1.1.0) is a minor update, but collectively it improves the eReader on multiple fronts. Here's what's included:
Improvements to Wi-Fi connectivity
Improvements to Home and Shop performance
Adds ability to Pinch to Zoom in browser
Enhance the reading experience for magazines and children's books
Adds a text banner to easily identify Nook kids Read to Me books
Also of note are "general bug fixes and performance improvements," of which B&N didn't elaborate. If you own a Nook Color, you can expect to receive the update via Wi-Fi over the next few days, or you can manually download the latest firmware from here (166MB download).
Barnes & Noble on Monday credited its recently launched Nook Color for driving "robust Nook Newstand sales" to the tune of more than 650,000 digital periodical subscriptions and single copy sales in just two months.
"We are excited to offer a wide array of top periodicals and have seen explosive growth in Nook Newsstand sales since the launch of Nook Color. Our customers clearly enjoy reading digital versions of their favorite magazines in rich, beautiful color, along with their daily newspapers, with the convenience of subscription or single issue purchases," said Jonathan Shar, Vice President and General Manager of digital newsstand at Barnes & Noble. "We've had overwhelmingly positive feedback from our content partners as well and will continue to build upon our vast collection of periodicals and incorporate even more interactivity for Nook Color customers this year."
Barnes & Noble added a dozen new digital periodicals to its growing catalog last month, which now features over 120 full-color magazines and newspaper brands, the company said.
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 had hoped to put all this unpleasant legal wrangling behind them, but their effort to have the case brought by Spring Design dismissed has been rejected. The judge said in his ruling that there was insufficient information to assure Barnes and Noble did not violate California law. Spring Design will be allowed to pursue their claim against the bookseller turned ebook seller for misappropriating trade secrets and breach of contract.
Spring design, maker of the Alex e-reader, claims to have shared its e-reader design with Barnes and Noble in hopes the retailer would enter a partnership to sell ebooks. Instead, Barnes and Noble made and launched the Nook with a similar two screen design. Spring Design sued shortly thereafter. The Ales did eventually launch in April of 2010 with a $299 price tag. The high price and lack of a strong content tie in has made for a tough sell. Do you think Barnes and Noble borrowed a little too heavily from the Alex?
Google’s ebook store has finally stepped out of the realm of rumors and entered the real world. Matter-of-factly called the Google eBookstore, it is well stocked and supports a wide variety of devices, including PCs, smartphones, tablets and e-readers. According to Google, the store boasts the largest ebooks collection in the world with more than three million titles.
Since its Google’s ebook store, books are stored in the cloud and can be bought and read in it as well. Offline reading on Android and iOS devices is supported through native apps. As for e-readers, support is restricted to only those devices that are compatible with the Adobe eBook platform. While Amazon’s Kindle is not supported, Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony Reader are probably the most notable names on the list of supported devices.
There's a new firmware version available for the Nook, version 1.5, and according to Barnes and Noble this is the largest update ever to the company's eBook reader platform. New features include:
Sync current reading position across devices
Customizable folders and group content for My B&N Library
Password protection option for purchases made on a Nook device
Pass code security for the Nook
In addition, the new firmware brings about faster page turns up to 50 percent quicker than previous versions, improved search functionality that includes My Documents in the results, better battery life, and "other performance enhancements."
The version 1.5 software applies to both 3G and Wi-Fi Nook devices and is available for download at www.nook.com/support.
As expected, Barnes & Noble announced the Nook Color today at their event in New York. The device ditches the eInk monochrome screen used by the Amazon Kindle and regular Nook. In its place is a 7-inch IPS color touchscreen. The resolution is a very reasonable 1024x600, and it will come with a special anti-glare film. There is also Wi-Fi, a microSD card slot, and no 3G right now.
This device is utilizing more elements of the underlying Android system, but it is thoroughly skinned. It is clear this is a reader first and foremost. But users will have access to music, the browser, social networking, and a few select apps like Pandora. Since this is significantly different from the stock Android platform, developers looking to get their apps on the platform will have to use a Barnes & Noble supplied SDK.
The Nook Color will sell for $249 when it comes out on November 19. The bookseller is looking to get people reading magazines and newspaper on this device, in addition to regular books. Barnes & Noble may be calling this part tablet and part reader, but they may find that it isn't good enough at being either. Do you think this device is going to succeed?