As I’d anticipated, Barnes & Noble upped their e-reader game by introducing something a bit more tabletesque. Whereas Amazon’s competing on simplicity and driving down prices, B&N is gambling upmarket with the $249 Nook Color. And it is a gamble given their traditional bookselling business and with so many tablet devices on the horizon. Then again, sitting still could be a bigger risk.
B&N is marketing the 7″ color touchscreen device as a digital book reader first and foremost — which seems like the correct strategy. But, while the magazines and customizable bookshelf look attractive, the geek in me is much more stimulated by what appears to be a full-on web browsing experience. If it’s as good as the typical Android webkit browser, this could be an economical and enjoyable couch companion. However, considering the device is shipping in only a few weeks, it’s a little concerning that Engadget wasn’t permitted to “drive” the Nook Color at its press introduction… making me wonder how sluggish it might possibly be (given the original Nook’s slow performance).
Along with the Nook Color, B&N also launched a Nook Developer program – meaning apps and a marketplace! (That exclamation point represents ‘surprise’ not ‘excitement’) Pretty much solidifying the platform as a mobile computing device. And Pandora (!) is a launch partner. Wild stuff, indeed. Although, as I suggested, I’d be satisfied simply with a solid web browsing experience – above and beyond periodic digital periodicals.