The future may hold far fewer and radically redesigned stores, analysts say.
Barnes & Noble is attempting to transform its e-reader into a tablet.
Barnes & Noble Inc. has achieved a major milestone, and in very short order. Consumers have downloaded applications in its week-old Nook Apps mobile app store one million times. The top five paid apps are Angry Birds, Drawing Pad, Solitaire, Aces Jewel Hunt and Astraware Mahjong. The top five free apps are Fliq Calendar, Fliq Notes, Pulse, Nook Word of the Day and Fliq Tasks.
“Our recent software update to Nook Color delivered the most-requested tablet features by our customers, including the ability to shop for and download high-quality apps. Reaching over a million app downloads in just a week since the launch of app shopping for all Nook Color customers exceeded expectations, and is an exciting milestone for our developers, publishing partners, and most importantly for our rapidly growing Nook Color user base,” says William Lynch, CEO.
The bookseller did not respond to questions about the number of Nook Color devices and paid apps sold.
Barnes & Noble launched the app store in its recent Nook Color software upgrade. The upgrade makes the Nook Color Reader Tablet a more viable competitor with higher-end tablet PCs like the iPad from Apple Inc.
For example, the Nook Color costs $249 and includes Wi-Fi access. The basic iPad 2, which comes with Wi-Fi, costs $499. The Nook Color weighs just less than a pound and features a 7.0-inch screen. The iPad 2 weighs 1.33 pounds but features a significantly larger, 9.7-inch screen. The Nook Color offers eight gigabytes of built-in storage while the iPad 2 offers up to 32 gigabytes.
The iPad features Apple’s dual-core chip that enables the computer to operate with great speed and efficiency. Barnes & Noble does not promote what kind of chip it uses and did not respond to a request for information. And the Nook device’s battery life comes in at eight hours while the iPad hits 10 hours. Overall, the iPad 2 is a more powerful device with a larger screen and access to many more apps than the Nook, but the Nook offers many similar features for half the price.
“I would characterize the Nook Color as a mild challenger to the iPad; its main appeal is to book and magazine readers,” says Neil Strother, practice director at ABI Research. “The price difference against the iPad is clearly a factor in its favor. But for a more robust tablet experience, the iPad is still a better choice. However, for book and magazine readers looking to save some money, the Nook Color makes sense.”
Forrester Research Inc. says in 2015 29.4 million U.S. consumers will own a dedicated e-reader and 82.1 million will own a tablet PC. It classifies the Nook Color as an e-reader, and says the Nook Color and the iPad are designed for two different types of consumers.
“The Nook Color is an e-reader/tablet hybrid: It’s focused primarily on reading, but offers other apps for media consumption, games and productivity. For many consumers, the Nook is all the tablet they need, and the $249 price tag allows Barnes & Noble to tap into more of a mass market than Apple does with the iPad,” says Sarah Rotman-Epps, senior analyst, consumer product strategy, at Forrester. “Depending on how you define a tablet, you could say the Nook Color is a stronger competitor to the iPad than other Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Dell Streak because it curates around a convincing scenario—reading, media and e-mail. Plus it has a channel other iPad competitors don’t have—the Barnes & Noble store.”
On the other hand, she adds, the iPad’s larger screen, more powerful processor and wider selection of apps appeals to consumers who want to do more with a tablet.