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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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January 2018
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Kindle Fire May Finally Face Threat From Nook Tablet

While the Nook Tablet has done moderately well, especially compared to many other budget tablets in the same price range, it has not proven to be the substantial threat to the Kindle Fire that many hoped it would be.  There was never a chance that the new market would make this Nook a Kindle killer, but the fact that competition has been so one-sided thus far is almost disappointing.  While it may not be enough to turn things around entirely, however, Barnes & Noble has done a couple things lately to keep their product line in the game.

Most interesting of these, especially for existing and prospective Nook owners, is the memory reallocation program they have begun.  If somebody has a Nook Tablet with 16GB of storage space, they are now able to go into any Barnes & Noble location and get their internal storage settings changed to allow for 8GB of usable space.  While it is hardly the freedom to use all of the hardware you paid for that many would prefer, 8GB of free space is more than the Kindle Fire offers and definitely more in line with what customers were expecting when they picked up the tablet in the first place.  Including all that storage space and locking customers out of using it was simply a dumb move.

To overcome the price disparity between their own line and Amazon’s, B&N has released an 8GB model that matches the $200 Kindle Fire price.  We’ve been over this a bit in previous posts, but the significance cannot be overlooked since the Nook’s hardware does have several advantages over the Kindle.

Even more important, though less immediately available for analysis, there is reason to believe that the Nook Tablet will beat the Kindle Fire to the UK.  There has been a great deal of anger directed at Amazon over the impressive amount of time they are taking to get their device anywhere outside of the US.  For a company like Barnes & Noble, which has already gained a reputation for having minimal interest in international markets based on eReader sales, this would be quite a coup.  Having the market essentially to itself would be nice for the Nook’s popularity, but the potential for fast-track progress to customer loyalty is even more important.

In the end, the thing that the Kindle Fire has going for it is the same thing it has always had going for it.  Amazon as a backer and the ecosystem they provide.  Barnes & Noble can change their prices, fix their mistakes, and jump ahead in distribution all they want, but they can’t hope to come out on top without matching the Amazon back end.  Whether they are willing to invest the time and effort into doing so, or even have the capability at this point, remains to be seen.  It is always good news for customers when the competition heats up, though, so we can all hope that B&N will follow up these positive efforts with something that will require Amazon to step up their Kindle Fire game a bit in response.

Barnes & Noble Cleaning Up After Misleading Kindle Fire vs Nook Tablet Campaign

The competition in the 7″ Tablet market was obviously thrown into disarray by the arrival of the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet devices.  Even if you completely set aside the service being offered in conjunction by either company, any moderately powerful Android Tablet in the $200-250 range is attractive.  Just look at how well the Nook Color did, even locked down with ridiculously few apps and a marketing campaign focused on reading.  What’s also rather clear, however, is that with the Kindle Fire getting the majority of the attention pre-launch, B&N needed to make an impression on potential customers.  They may have overdone it a bit.

The most obvious disappointment for Nook Tablet early adopters was the storage space.  One of the biggest draws in this case was the fact that they included twice the Kindle Fire’s storage space.  This is especially important given the huge emphasis on video viewing that’s been happening lately.  The Nook certainly offers more natively supported formats, so 12GB of available space to side load your library onto is great on paper.  As we’ve learned since then though, that’s not going to be happening.  Barnes & Noble decided that Nook Tablet owners would probably be needing to have around 11GB of that space blocked to outside content.  That’s less than 10% of what was promised, which means that the only people likely to ever get the most out of their new Nooks in this regard are the ones who root them.

Also related to the video viewing qualifications of the device is the quality problem.  Probably to set themselves apart from the Kindle Fire yet again, B&N advertised the new Nook as “The best in HD entertainment”, among a number of other similar claims.  Now, obviously this could not be the case.  Anybody who gave it a decent amount of thought already knew that, given the resolution of the screen if nothing else.  This sort of language has since been dropped from the Nook Tablet product page.

The official response was that what they “really” meant for customers to understand was that they pull a higher quality video feed from Netflix than the competition and the message just got lost in translation somewhere. Where the Kindle Fire pulls the standard definition stream and fits it to the tablet, the Nook Tablet grabs the HD and downgrades it.  This does, admittedly, result in a better picture for those with the network reliability to support it and would have made sense to advertise.  Instead, they opted for what seems to have been deliberate misinformation.

It’s taken a bit of time, but corrections are being made to the advertising.  I think it’s important to make note of these early efforts to drum up preorders, though.  While the Nook Tablet is definitely a good product for the money, there’s something a bit off about this approach to selling it.  There is a big difference between fixing launch bugs and having to significantly modify your product descriptions to avoid deceiving customers.

Apple iCloud Fails To Impress In Light of Kindle Whispernet and Amazon Cloud Drive

There’s been a fair amount of interest lately in Apple’s recently announced iCloud service that brings greater attention to the cloud based storage options available to consumers today.  So far so good.  It doesn’t really seem much like innovation when Amazon has effectively been doing it with the Kindle on a small scale for a few years now though.  What new and exciting thing are they bringing to the table for their portable devices that isn’t available anywhere else?

The vision that we are given for the Apple iCloud is a service that just works.  It knows what you own, makes sure it is available on every device you own at all times, and generally makes your life better.  The focus is on music, of course.  On these points, I think a comparison with the Whispernet situation is relevant.  Your Amazon account will keep track of all your books, make sure that every registered device can access them (and thanks to the many Kindle apps, that means almost anything you own with a screen on it regardless of who makes it), and keep everything nice and consistent during transitions.  It’s the same concept in a lot of ways.

The one point where we have to give Apple loads of credit is on their iTunes Matching idea.  They actually found a way to make people want to pay money to listen to things they already either own or have pirated.  It’s impressive.  Your whole library is available whenever you want it so long as you keep up with your annual fee.  In spite of this, I don’t think they quite thought it through enough.  Sure, people will be willing to sync their music, but to really set themselves apart a streaming solution would have worked a lot better.  As it is, you end up having to download every song you own to every device you might want to listen to it on.  You might as well be just plugging in your iOS devices and syncing to a computer at that point. It isn’t that the iCloud is a bad idea, just that it doesn’t really do anything all that exciting for the money they are asking.

Amazon offers a similar cloud-based media service that also fails to offer streaming for now.  It doesn’t have the matching ability that Apple offers, but it does have a smaller sized free account option and pretty much everything else that the iCloud brings to the table.  If I had to guess, I would say that between the Amazon Cloud Drive and their Android App Store Amazon is getting into a position to do for their upcoming Kindle Tablet line, which will likely eventually compete with Apple in most slots including an iPod Touch equivalent, what the iCloud does for iOS.  The only differences would seem to be that Amazon doesn’t have Apple’s history of multiple failed efforts to push cloud storage and they do have at least one market specific experience with how to do it right, thanks to the Kindle.