What the Nook Color 2 needs to beat the Kindle Fire

Summary:The Kindle Fire is the hottest unreleased gadget out there, but could a Nook Color 2 provide some healthy competition?

If the reports are true, then we can expect to see Barnes & Noble release the second generation of the Nook Color in early November -- ahead of the November 15th launch date for Amazon's Kindle Fire.

The Kindle Fire is probably the more anticipated gadget of the two, mainly because it's brand new and Amazon already announced it earlier this month after months of speculation.

However, that doesn't meant that the Nook Color 2 can't compete. They will definitely have their similarities (more than likely both will have 7-inch touch screens, etc.), and these Android-based devices stretch the boundaries between e-book readers and tablets.

For a long time, many critics argued that the Nook Color was the best Android tablet available. Yet the unveiling of the Kindle Fire also sparked debate that its launch will inspire a whole new category of lower-end tablets that will won't compete directly with Apple's iPad.

But the Nook Color 2 going to need to accomplish several things before it can challenge the Kindle Fire, let alone beat it:

PRICING

The original Nook Color was released at $249, but the Kindle Fire is slated to start $199. There is no way that Barnes & Noble can hope to beat Amazon in this regard without bringing the price down to the same level.

SPEED

The Kindle Fire will boast a dual-core processor as well as the cloud-leveraged, Amazon Silk "split browser" architecture for speedier surfing. Acknowledging that there are certainly some privacy concerns and questions regarding Silk, the browser on the current Nook Color is still rather boring and not fast at all. A speed boost all-around would be a welcomed upgrade.

It also remains to be seen if B&N could integrate any kind of cloud option whatsoever. That would be an interesting twist, but it's certainly easier to add for Amazon considering its Web Services unit. So I wouldn't bet on cloud features this time around. Otherwise, B&N could try to fill the gap with more than 8GB of onboard memory or even including a larger microSD card in the bundle.

ECOSYSTEM

This is one area that few players in the tech world that would be able to compete with Amazon, and Barnes & Noble just isn't one of them. The key selling point (besides the price tag) for the Kindle Fire is that it will bring together nearly every feature from the Amazon ecosystem (i.e. Amazon Instant Video, Cloud Player, Cloud Drive, shopping, etc.) into one neat little bundle on the same device. Boom.

Beyond Barnes & Noble's extensive digital library and newsstand, it's doubtful what B&N could do in this space. The most competitive feature the Nook Color has in this regard is that it supports the Android Market, thus bringing in plenty of features from elsewhere.

But being that the Kindle Fire runs on a variation of Android as well, Amazon will likely meet the challenge here too. Perhaps the Nook Color will run on Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich? Doubtful, especially considering the price point argument, but one can dream.

Related:

Topics: Amazon, Hardware, Mobility

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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