is that the next version of Barnes & Noble‘s e-reader, the Nook, could be a full-fledged colour tablet running Google‘s mobile OS Android. Before Barnes & Noble invests too much into this new product, perhaps they should listen to this piece of friendly advice: give up.
The first Nook is a really nice product. It had something Amazon‘s Kindle doesn’t, a small full-colour touchscreen to complement its black and white e-paper screen. It was pretty enough. And B&N promoted the hell out of it.
There’s one problem with it though: its catalogue of books, while generous, is behind Kindle’s, and customers are finding out. The Kindle is a nice piece of hardware, at least as good as the Nook, but more importantly it’s a huge media store that Amazon is smartly spreading to every platform, from desktop computers to smartphones to rival tablets. This is the right strategy, and it’s paying off. Most people who read books on iPad do it through the Kindle app. And Amazon is currently in a battle royale with Apple’s iBookstore to be the dominant store for e-books — and winning. B&N is imitating that strategy, but we don’t know anyone who reads B&N e-books on their iPad, and Amazon is promoting the hell out of Kindle.
This means that between those two giants, Barnes & Noble stands no chance. It’s a retailer. It doesn’t have the software or hardware culture, or the experience of running media stores, that Apple and Amazon have. And it’s not exactly a nimble startup either. It can’t build a media store that can rival Amazon’s or Apple’s, and there’s certainly no chance in hell that it can build a full-featured Android tablet that can compete head-on with the iPad.
Of course, Barnes & Noble is for sale, and they need prospective buyers to believe that there’s some potential growth left in the business in sexy markets like tablets and e-books. But they shouldn’t have any illusions.