New Nook – Nook 2 to take on Kindle 3

We might see Nook 2 arrive and take on Kindle 3 within the next few weeks.  Will Nook 2 turn out to be a decent challenger to the Kindle 3’s status as ‘best reading device’?

Well, we’ll have to see. Hopefully, we’re in for an epic Kindle 3 vs Nook 2 battle with lots of price-cuts and feature-matching.

B&N revealed yesterday (rather indirectly) that a new Nook eReader will be unveiled on May 24th, 2011. The logical assumption would be that B&N is releasing the second version of the Nook eInk eReader – as opposed to a newer Nook Color. If it’s done right, it’s likely to have quite an impact on the eReader world.

First, two links -

  1. David Carnoy at Crave thinks that, on May 24th, we will probably see an eInk based Nook 2.
  2. Update: Forrester’s James McQuivey also thinks an eInk based Nook 2, a direct competitor to the Kindle 3, will be unveiled. The rest of the world is wedded to the possibility that a Honeycomb-powered Nook Color 2 will be announced.
  3. B&N’s SEC Filing talks about the new Nook eReader.

    Item 7.01. Regulation FD Disclosure.

    In a meeting with investor analysts on May 4, 2011, Barnes & Noble, Inc. (the “Company”) indicated it expects to make an announcement on May 24, 2011 regarding the launch of a new eReader device.

Next, let’s look at why this is likely to be a Nook 2, and not a Nook Color 2 or a 10″ Nook Color XL.

Why this is likely to be an eInk based Nook 2, and not a Tablet

Reasons the new B&N eBook Reader is likely to be eInk based Nook 2 -

  1. It’s been 1 year and 6 months since Nook 1 was released. It’s been 6 months since Nook Color was released. A Nook Color 2 just seems unlikely – What company releases a new model 6 months after the first ‘Is there a market for this?’ version comes out?
  2. B&N just released a major software update for the Nook Color and an app store. It’s a bit unlikely it would do that just a few weeks before releasing Nook Color 2.
  3. B&N will probably wait to see what Kindle Tablet is like before releasing Nook Color 2. There’s a chance Kindle Tablet is not a reading tablet and aimed at iPad. In that case, B&N won’t have to worry much about competition for the Nook Color.
  4. Kindle 3 is taking Nook 1 to the dryers. Nook Color is taking all non-iPad Tablets to the dryers. A Nook 2 is obviously needed a lot more than a new Nook Color.
  5. B&N’s Nook does not have the new eInk Pearl screen – which puts it at a significant disadvantage when compared to the Kindle 3 and the newer Sony Readers.
  6. Nook was already facing a price disadvantage due to the $139 Kindle WiFi. The $114 Ad Kindle further increases Kindle’s appeal to price-conscious customers. B&N has to respond.
  7. Hardcore ebook buyers tend to prefer eReaders with eInk screens – which makes it imperative for a book seller like B&N to compete head-on with Kindle via a new beefed-up Nook 2.
  8. Nook2.com is registered to a B&N employee. Potential other Nook 2 names like NookTouch.com are registered to either B&N or to B&N employees.

There are lots of good reasons for this new device to be the Nook 2. However, let’s play devil’s advocate and see if a new Nook Color makes sense.

Reasons B&N’s new eReader device might be a 10″ Nook Color XL or a Nook Color 2 -

  1. Perhaps B&N has been so impressed by the success of the Nook Color that it has decided to launch a 10″ version.
  2. Perhaps B&N doesn’t want a legal fight with Microsoft over Android and is switching to another Operating System. Nook Color 2 might just be Nook Color without Android and with a few minor changes. One thing that’s really puzzling is why Microsoft would choose to sue Barnes & Noble of all companies. Why go after a (relatively) small company selling a $249 Reading Tablet when there are much larger companies using Android? Perhaps Microsoft thinks it can beat a small company and then use that legal precedent to go after giants like Samsung and Sony.
  3. B&N might want to use Google’s Honeycomb OS as it’s optimized for Tablets. We know that Honeycomb runs on hacked Nook Colors but Nook Color is a reading tablet and not a full tablet. Perhaps B&N decided to build a Tablet better suited to Honeycomb, i.e. a full Tablet.  
  4. [Assumption] B&N might be seeing 800,000 sales a month of the Nook Color and 200,000 sales a month of the Nook. It might have decided to quit pure eReaders and focus on Reading Tablets.
  5. B&N might have decided to take a proper shot at the tablet market. There is huge demand for a non-iPad tablet – to the point that people are using a Reading Tablet (Nook Color) as a Tablet.

There are some good reasons for B&N to release a Nook Color 2 or a 10″ Nook Color XL. The biggest question mark is the timeframe – It’s only been 6 months since the launch of the Nook Color. Launching now would mean B&N started planning and designing Nook Color 2 at least 9 months ago. That’s 3 months before Nook Color launched and proved to be a success.

It’s safe to assume there’s an 80% chance this is a Nook 2. A new Nook that will set up a glorious Kindle 3 vs Nook 2 fight. Let’s speculate on what Nook 2 might be like.

What will Nook 2 bring to the table?

B&N has seen Amazon take the 2009 Holiday season due to Nook shortages. It has seen Amazon take the 2010 Holiday season due to a newer Kindle release and lower prices.

With that context in mind, it’s quite likely that B&N will try for a double pronged attack of lower price and advanced technology (technology advanced enough to match or exceed the Kindle WiFi).

Nook 2 will probably have -

  1. The new eInk Pearl screen. A very high chance.
  2. Mirasol screen technology. A low 5% chance. If B&N does manage to release Nook Mirasol on May 24th, it’ll completely dominate the eReader market until an equivalent Kindle Mirasol comes out.
  3. Pixel Qi screen technology. A low 5% chance. This might not be as much of an advantage as Mirasol, but it’ll be a significant one.
  4. No LCD screen at the bottom. Trying to make an eInk screen work with an LCD screen is a terrible idea. It hampers usability and adds costs and is just a lack of purity in design.
  5. Nook Apps. If B&N releases a Nook 2, it is almost certainly going to extend the Nook App Store to the Nook 2.
  6. Only WiFi. A high probability that Nook 2 doesn’t have 3G since B&N will be doing everything it can to cut costs.
  7. An Email Client. B&N just added one to Nook Color. It would be easy to add the same Email Client to Nook 2.
  8. Nook Lending Network and Nook Friends Social Network.
  9. Some feature(s) we haven’t thought of.
  10. It’ll obviously have ePub support and library book support. The latter is an advantage until Amazon actually adds library book support to the Kindle. The former will probably stay an advantage for a long time.
  11. It might stick with an SD card slot.
  12. High probability it will be lighter and thinner. While Nook 1 is around the same length and width as Kindle, it’s noticeably heavier and thicker.
  13. Speed Improvements and Fewer Bugs. Nook 1 had quite a few bugs and tended to be a bit sluggish. If B&N drops the LCD screen it’ll solve part of the problem (the LCD makes the eInk seem sluggish plus the LCD+eInk synchronization causes problems).
  14. An evolution of LendMe (the lending feature). Amazon matched the LendMe feature late last year and took away a major B&N advantage. Nook 2 might have a better lending feature – especially since Publishers will be eager to prevent Amazon from completely dominating eReaders and eBooks. 
  15. Better Battery Life. Thanks to the LCD screen at the bottom, the Nook 1 always struggled a bit when it came to battery life. If the LCD is gone B&N’s Nook 2 might compete with Kindle 3 on battery life.
  16. Touch. Sony showed how to add touch without depending on eInk (the company making eInk and canned sloth juice). B&N might decide to do the same (IR based touch).
  17. Multi-level Folders. Rather unlikely given the complexity – but it would be one thing B&N could claim to beat Kindle on.
  18. Better Security and Parental Controls. If B&N can add parental controls and add to its existing security options it can get another advantage over the Kindle.
  19. Microphone. Kindle 3 has a microphone that isn’t used for anything. B&N might add one and perhaps even use it for something.
  20. Text to Speech. This is a major Kindle advantage and B&N might finally get around to matching this.

There’s a lot of room for improvement. Nook 2 has a lot to do to catch up with Kindle 3 and it also has the opportunity to steal a lead. Kindle 3 vs Nook 2 is going to be a very important and very interesting battle.

One Response

  1. The only interest for me in this is if B&N finally decide to address those of us the rest of the world … until then it wouldn’t matter if Nook 2 kicked sand in the face of the Kindle 3 and walked off with its girlfriend.

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