Barnes & Noble's latest version of the Nook has been unveiled with a ship date of November 18th, prompting Amazon to release publicity reminding us of line up of Apps for the Kindle Fire's, which also starts to ship next week.
The Kindle Fire looks like the first serious competition to the iPad's reign as the top tab but it too is coming under fire (pun intended) from competitors in the ebook reader turned general purpose tablet group - particularly the Nook Tablet. This all goes to prove that the tablet hardware market is in the hands of the content providers rather than the hardware manufacturers. Who cares who actually makes the Fire, or the Nook for that matter?
Apart from being thinner and lighter, the 7-inch Nook Tablet looks very similar to Nook Color eBook reader, which Barnes & Noble However, the internal specifications of the two devices are very different. The Nook Tablet has a Texas Instruments built 1GHz dual core CPU, 1 GB of RAM and internal storage of 16GB, with a slot for microSD cards which supports cards up to 32GB.
The price of the Nook Tablet is $249 and the selling points claimed by B&N CEO William Lynch compared to its rival, the $199 Kindle Fire are its fully laminated VidiView touchscreen display, twice the amount of RAM and in-store support.
Keeping the pressure on the Amazon range, the prices of the other Nook products are being decreased, with the Color at $199 (i.e. equivalent to the Kindle Fire) and the Simple Touch at $99, the same as the Kindle Touch. Lynch also promised "no annoying ads" in a reference to Amazon's "with special offers range" and dismissed the Kindle Fire as being "deficient as a media tablet".
As the demo video for the Nook Tablet makes clear, watching HD videos and TV shows is high on its list of priorities and it has Netflix and Hulu Plus integrated. For music fans Pandora is provided.
Amazon's response has been to point to the range of apps it has available with Netflix, Rhapsody, Pandora, Facebook and Zyngo being among the list.
Both the Nook and the Fire are examples of the way that content providers are coming to dominate the tablet market. Is Apple a hardware manufacturer or a content seller? Can a hardware manufacturer create an attractive tablet without finding some way to offer content that goes beyond the standard app store? If the answer is no then you have to expect to be buying your tablets not from the likes of HP, Samsung and Acer but from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the media retailers.