A couple of weeks ago, I reported that a new Nook tablet had hit the FCC, but Barnes & Noble had stayed mum on its existence. As the holiday shopping season approaches, however, the bookseller has officially unwrapped the Nook Tablet 7-inch -- with a heretofore un-Nook-like price.
With its $49.99 price tag, the new Nook is clearly taking aim at Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets, whose popularity is one of the rare bright spots in the stagnating tablet market. In particular, it lines up in price, screen size, and storage with the Kindle Fire 7, the gateway drug to Amazon's bigger and/or better models.
What's the competitive edge for the Nook Tablet 7-inch against the Fire? The obvious one for anyone that's used a Kindle before is that there's no sign of "special offers" -- ads that appear when you power down your Kindle device unless you pay extra for a version that removes them. B&N also tries to sweeten the deal with its Readouts feature, which provides brief excerpts on new books as well as select articles from magazines, and free Nook support from brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble locations.
Though announcing the new Nook this week, Barnes & Noble will start put it on sale starting on Black Friday, a logical time given the foot traffic to its stores. The bad news for B&N is that it's the same time that the Kindle Fire 7 will be discounted by Amazon and a number of other retailers to just $33.33. As far as we know, a similar sale is not happening for the Nook Tablet 7-inch.
Of course, the $33.33 sale is only temporary, so that price advantage will go away. The bigger question is whether B&N can market its new Nook as providing something different or more valuable than the Amazon's budget Kindle Fire and the Kindle ecosystem currently offers. Since dabbling in the tablet market, Barnes & Noble has been forced to spin off its Nook division and partner with Samsung to create Nook-branded tablets (though this new bargain tablet is manufactured by another third party). This may be its last chance to find a nook in the market with its Nook.