Barnes & Noble has unveiled a customised version of an existing Samsung tablet as a replacement for the Nook HD+, which it manufactured itself.The US book chain is marketing the device as the “first-ever full-featured Android tablet optimised for reading”, based on its inclusion of pre-installed Nook apps and homescreen shortcuts.
However, its screen is lower resolution than Kobo’s Android-powered Arc 7HD.
One analyst said it would be an “uphill struggle” to sell the new device.
“There is growing consumer apathy to this growing class of low-cost tablets,” said Ben Wood, from the tech consultancy CCS Insight told TechWinter.
“Although there is the Nook angle on this, it goes into the melting pot with numerous other tablets that will appear in this price point as we run up to Christmas.
“Amazon has pretty much locked out the market in reading-focused tablets anyway, the only thing I’d applaud here is the fact that Barnes & Noble has gone to Samsung, which can give it scale and quality.”
he advantage that the 7in (17.8cm)-screened Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook has over Amazon’s Fire tablets is that it can easily access the Google Play marketplace. Amazon’s tablet uses a proprietary store with fewer apps available.
Costing $179 (£107), the new Nook is also cheaper than the Kindle Fire HDX and Kobo Arc 7HD.
However with only 216 pixels per inch, text will appear less sharp on its screen. Likewise, magazines and movies sold from the included Nook Newsstand and Nook Video apps will present less detail than similar purchases on either the two other Android machines or Apple’s bestselling iPad Mini, which also has its own dedicated ebook store.
Even so, one market watcher said the tie-up still made business sense. Samsung should benefit from the exposure of having its machine promoted in Barnes & Noble’s stores and website, while the retailer gets to cut its costs after posting a $47m (£28.2m) net loss for its last financial year.
“It’s very hard to make money out of mobile devices,” said Ian Fogg, from the IHS consultancy.
“But by having this partnership, Barnes & Noble can have its own content and services pre-installed so that they are not just front-of-mind but also front-of-eyes for consumers.
“If it wants to get its apps used on other people’s devices it has to persuade people to install them instead of a Kindle app or another competitor – that visibility is very important.”
At the moment the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is only available in the US.
Barnes and Noble will continue to sell e-ink readers, including the Nook GlowLight, which was launched in the UK earlier this month.