The Kindle is a third generation eReader that improves greatly on the Kindle 2.
Kindle 2 and Nook were neck to neck, with Kindle edging ahead because of a better ebook store and better infrastructure. However, Kindle 3 features like the new eInk Pearl screen and really good battery life make Kindle 3 a clearly better choice than Nook.
You’ll usually be picking Kindle 3 over Nook 1 – Unless you need ePub support, library book support, or prefer B&N over Amazon. B&N needs a Nook 2 that is really, really good to compete effectively with Kindle 3.
B&N has shown, with the Nook Color, that it can create really impressive devices and that it’s getting better at this hardware stuff. Now, it just has to create and release a Nook 2 that can take on the ‘bestest sellingest eReader ever’.
What might B&N add to Nook 2?
First, we have the obvious candidates –
- eInk Pearl. This is an absolute must-have.
- Touch. Perhaps something like Sony Reader’s InfraRed based touch.
- Faster page turns. This is another must-have
- Better battery life.
- Smaller Size.
- Lower Weight. Nook 1 weighs quite a bit more than Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 – It’s time for B&N to cut down on weight.
- International availability. B&N can easily increase its sales 50% or more by shipping Nooks worldwide. It will have to add bookstores for countries other than the US.
These are the things B&N is quite likely to add to Nook 2.
Next, we have the long shots –
- Mirasol display or eInk Triton (color eInk).
- Lower Price – B&N managed to release Nook Color at $250. It needs to create a similarly magical price for Nook 2.
- Elimination of the touchscreen at the bottom.
- Text to Speech. This is a really valuable feature. Now that Kindle has matched Nook’s LendMe feature, it’s time for B&N to add Kindle’s text to speech feature.
- Speech to Text. Might as well add this alongside Text to Speech.
- A Nook 2 App Store. The current Nook App Store is only for Nook Color. To effectively compete with Kindle, the Nook 2 will need apps sooner or later. Might as well add support for apps now.
- 7″ screen. Not sure if eInk can provide a 7″ screen for Nook 2. If it can, this would be a great move.
- Completely different, very simple UI. B&N might create a very simple, easy interface for Nook 2. If it did, it would really help.
- Multi-level folders. An instant advantage over Kindle.
- Much better PDF support. Hard to see this happening as PDFs on 6″ screens are really difficult to get right.
- Further retail availability. B&N already sells Nooks at Wal-Mart and BestBuy and Target. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to expand beyond these stores.
- More color choices.
It’s unlikely B&N will be able to get color eInk into Nook 2. A lot of the other long-shots are doable, and B&N might sneak in a few.
Finally, we have the crazy possibilities –
- Free Internet via 3G. Very unlikely as this is probably really expensive.
- Sub $100 price. Might B&N make Nook 2 a Kindle WiFi competitor, instead of a Kindle 3 competitor?
- Expand the Lending feature.
- Remove its password protection DRM, and make Nook store ebooks readable on any eReader that supports Adobe DRM. This will allow Nook owners to migrate to any eReader they want to – It’s therefore unlikely that B&N would do this.
- Support for Audible audiobooks. It’s unlikely B&N would support a rival.
- A physical keyboard. Given what it’s done with Nook Color a touchscreen is far likelier.
- Stylus and handwriting support.
These are all pretty unlikely. There is a slight chance B&N goes for a sub-$100 price – but not much.
What should B&N add to Nook 2?
That’s a tough question to answer.
Option 1: The $99 Nook 2
B&N could make a big splash by going with a $99 budget Nook 2.
This would have – eInk Pearl, no touch, very simple user interface, faster page turns, better battery life, much smaller size, lighter weight, text to speech, speech to text, no touchscreen at the bottom, WiFi only, Nook Apps, much better PDF support.
It would also be available internationally.
Option 2: The $199 Color Nook 2
B&N could make an even bigger splash by going with a $199 Color Nook 2.
This would have – eInk Triton for a color screen, 7″ screen, flexible screen that’s hard to break, very simple user interface, touch with stylus and finger support, WiFi and 3G, faster page turns, better battery life, text to speech, speech to text, voice commands, Nook Apps.
Again, it would be available internationally.
Perhaps Both – A Nook 2 and a Nook 2 WiFi
Nook WiFi needs an update just as much as Nook does. Perhaps it’s time for B&N to introduce a Nook 2 and a Nook 2 WiFi. There could be a no-frills $99 Nook 2 WiFi to target people with a low budget. The $199 color eInk Nook 2 would target readers who don’t mind paying $200 for a state-of-the-art eReader.
Nook 2 probably won’t have a color screen, might arrive by March 2011
The big problem with color eInk is that it isn’t really ready.
We have no idea when eInk Triton will be ready. Mirasol will be arriving in PocketBook Color in Q3, 2011 – which probably means the actual release will be in Q2, 2012.
There are a few companies doing color eReaders, but these aren’t being brought to the US. Fujitsu has been releasing frighteningly expensive color eReaders in Japan for the last 2 years – However, it isn’t releasing anything here. Hanvon has a color eReader that it’ll release this year in China – but it has no plans to bring this color eReader to the US.
B&N might want to release a color Nook 2, but it doesn’t have any color ePaper options. That leaves it with things like flexible screens, touch screens, software improvements, and 7″ and 8″ screens.
Not being able to bring a color Nook 2 to market soon makes it harder for B&N to compensate for Kindle 3’s supporting cast – the Kindle Store and Kindle WhisperNet. Two of the most significant moves B&N could make, to improve Nook 2’s chances, are –
- Improve the Nook Store.
- Provide more Cloud based features. B&N has an opportunity here as Amazon has been too focused on non-core additions like Twittering and Sharing Highlights. If B&N delivers a great social feature like book clubs, or a social network related to reading, it could turn an area of weakness into an area of immense strength.
Nook Color has been a huge hit for B&N. Nook 2 is going to be one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2011. Will B&N deliver a Nook 2 as impressive as Nook Color?