It took a while for Amazon to get the Kindle Paperwhite ready for production. The months since the Nook Simple Touch w/ Glowlight was released have been problematic for the Kindle line, as customers had to consider the fact that there was no comparable Amazon offering. A lit screen with none of the shortcomings of the backlit LCD is a huge factor in creating the best possible reading experience and Barnes & Noble managed to get it to their customers first.
According to both the specs released and any number of reviewers, however, the new Kindle Paperwhite is noticeably superior to the Nook Simple Touch in a number of ways including that lighting. There isn’t much that can be done to recreate features like X-Ray on short notice, or to replace the screen being used on the Nook. That sort of thing will have to wait until at least the next big product release. Even the superior lighting capabilities of the Kindle Paperwhite are Amazon exclusives at the moment. The best that can be done to keep the competition alive is a price drop.
The Nook Simple Touch w/ Glowlight is now available for $119 both in stores and on the Barnes & Noble website. This matches the price of the cheaper, ad-supported Kindle Paperwhite. The timing of the price drop makes it clear that this was a reactionary move, though probably one that was planned in advance and merely waiting on the final price set by Amazon.
That new price will at least keep the superficial comparison about even, especially for customers who don’t care much about getting the absolute best hardware and for those who like having access to the advantages provided to Nook owners in local brick and mortar outlets. The associated product line, filled out as it is with a new set of low cost tablets, certainly won’t hurt reactions either.
While the Nook Tablet has been looking a bit dated, the new Nook HD tablet is a huge improvement. They did essentially the same thing that was accomplished with the original Nook Tablet vs Kindle Fire competition. Amazon has the superior content ecosystem and a decent device, but B&N trumped a number of hardware features while matching the price. Oddly enough, while the screen on the Nook HD is slightly high resolution it does lack cameras and comes with significantly less storage space then the Kindle Fire HD (when comparing base models). The lack of ad support and therefore a need to opt-out of on-device advertising is not a small advantage to offset that.
Realistically, a point by point comparison of the products leaves Amazon firmly ahead in the Kindle vs Nook competition again whether we’re talking tablets or eReaders. It isn’t enough of a lead to make the Nook unable to compete and it certainly won’t end the competitor’s prospects, but this latest price drop does highlight the fact that Barnes & Noble knows they will need to stretch a bit if they want to continue gaining market share this holiday season despite the Paperwhite‘s strong showing.