Is Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet worth $50 more than the Kindle Fire?

On paper the Nook Tablet does indeed seem superior to the Kindle Fire.

This morning Barnes and Noble finally unveiled the Nook Tablet. According to B&N this tablet is wqual to or superior to Amazon's Kindle Fire in every way ... except price. Is this new entry into the tablet market worth the extra $50?

Check out the Nook Tablet image gallery!

Amazon's set the price bar that every tablet maker (except Apple) has to limbo under - $199 - and Barnes and Noble immediately tries to test this by releasing a more expensive device. Is it a gamble?

On paper the Nook Tablet does indeed seem superior to the Kindle Fire:

Side-note: Since when is a 1024 x 600 screen considered HD? Sure, it can play HD video, but that's not the same thing.

More battery, more RAM, expandable storage ... all sounds good, right? Well, yes, expect for one small detail. People buying this tablet don't care about how much RAM or storage it has, or what version of Android it runs, or whether it has expandable storage or not, or what the screen viewing angle is like. At this end of the spectrum there's only one metric that really matters - price. Battery life may catch the eye, but I don't think that it's spectacular enough to offset the $50 price difference. So if people are in a comparing mood, then unless they're diving deep into the specification, there's not much to separate the devices and that $50 price difference could be a problem.

So, when it comes down to price, I think B&N could have a problem. Fortunately for B&N, price isn't actually all that important.

I think that the success or failure of the Nook Tablet will come down to these factors:

  • Where people shop matters - The Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire will never be sold side-by-side, so in many ways the price difference is irrelevant.
  • Content is king - The tablet is only part of the equation, it's a hardware lock-in into either the B&N or Amazon ecosystem. Amazon certainly has more content it can push to the device, and that makes the Kindle Fire a more compelling walled-garden. People who have already invested heavily in one ecosystem or another are unlikely to look to the competition (hardware lock-in is a wonderful thing!).
  • Who can make the most tablets for the holidays - These cheap tablets are going to be a big hit during the holidays, and B&N and Amazon both need to make sure that they can make enough tablets to keep up with demand. If one company has a slip-up and the tablets go onto a backorder schedule that pushes them into the new year, people will look to the competition.

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