The much awaited release of the Nook Color’s SDK has finally hit and it could mean big things for Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS). While I will admit that for reading I strongly prefer the Kindle‘s eInk screen, there’s a lot of potential to work with on the cheap tablet side of the popular new device. Now that we have the first step toward a potentially interesting dedicated app marketplace, there can’t be much doubt that Nook Color sales are going to take off a bit. So, what exactly is the effect going to be?
There are a couple different ways of looking at things here. For the majority of users, the app marketplace, in spite of being a closed system segregated from the majority of Android apps, will be a great thing. Tablets, as with smart phones, thrive on optional applications to optimize existing abilities and introduce new functionality. There can’t be much doubt in anybody’s mind that we’ll be looking at streaming video, comic reading, tabbed web browsing, and word processing, at the very least, as B&N makes the effort to catch every potential use they can find from the complaints people have made about eInk device shortcomings.
Barnes & Noble has already stated, however, that they plan to moderate the app marketplace to make sure that apps that pass through will “enhance the reading experience”, which could very well mean that a great deal of the functionality one might expect if this were just another tablet will be blocked off. While the Android Market review process is mostly just a quick check to make sure a given app is legal, this sounds likely to more closely approximate Apple’s rather more restrictive iPad app marketplace. To what extent the vision of the Nook Color as an eReader will be clung to is a question that only time can answer for us.
When it comes right down to it though, this is a mobile device running Android. It has already been rooted once, allowing the installation of unsanctioned third-party apps, and it will likely continue to have such options available, whatever the degree of difficulty involved, for as long as the Nook Color sticks around. If you really want something, and have the tech savvy to work through the process, the ability is there to get it running. I would find it especially amusing to see somebody playing with Kindle for Android on one of these, myself.
People are pretty much already decided one way or another what their opinion of this new Nook is with regard to its eReading options, myself being no exception, but you’ve got to respect the potential and admit that even if it fails as an eReader, the tablet market is booming right now and there’s nothing negative about being one of the first really affordable tablets on the market, whether that was your main focus or not. Barnes & Noble might very well have hit themselves a somewhat accidental home run here when all is said and done.