There’s been a lot of talk — including here — about Kindle vs iPad.
On Monday, in a move guaranteed to make sure they are a more prominent part of that conversation, Barnes and Noble announced a new, cheaper version of its Nook e-reader offering wi-fi but not 3G connectivity.
Priced at $149, it offers all the features of the regular Nook — color touchscreen, E-Ink, the ability to “loan” people books — except, of course, the 3G. In the same release, they announced they are lowering the price on the 3G version to $199 from $249.
Perhaps most importantly to Barnes, it offers them a chance to seriously undercut Amazon, which sells its Kindle for $259.
UPDATE: AMAZON ANNOUNCED AFTER THIS COLUMN WAS WRITTEN THAT THEY’VE DROPPED THE PRICE OF KINDLE BY $70 — TO $189. NOW WE HAVE A PRICE WAR, WHICH I SUSPECT WILL FURTHER WIDEN GULF BETWEEN E-READERS AND TABLETS. MORE TO COME ON THIS.
The Associated Press puts the Barnes and Noble announcement in the context of how can Barnes charge more when there are devices like the iPad out there that do so much more.
And that’s really the crux of the debate: are people going to be satisfied with devices that are just readers or are they going to demand more. This isn’t really a new issue (in fact, I just touched on it a couple of weeks ago).
There’s at least one person who thinks that, for all the competition, iPad, Kindle, Nook…. they’re just amateurs when it comes to presenting material to be read electronically.
Erstwhile inventor Ray Kurzweil told The New York Times last week that he’s developed software that “displays colorful images and varying fonts with formatting similar to what people find in physical texts” and that the software will run on all sorts of devices.
Kurzweil promises that once his Blio E-Reader is widely available it’s going to be bad news for Amazon and Apple an company because “publishers will not give things with complex formats to these e-Reader makers. They destroy the format.”
Maybe Kurzweil’s right, maybe he’s wrong. In the meantime, companies on both sides of the debate keep moving forward.
And Borders is about to enter the e-reader market, shipping its long-awaited Kobo later this week.
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- Price War for Apple and Amazon? (fool.com)
- B&N adds $149 WiFi-only Nook, cuts Nook 3G to $199 (news.cnet.com)
- Aggressive B&N Cuts Nook Price By 23 Percent; Adds $149 WiFi Edition (paidcontent.org)