Nook is back as a guardian of the Galaxy

After quitting the hardware business (except for the Glowlight e-reader), Nook is back in the tablet market with the co-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook.

The opening price for the tablet is a decent $179 (which is a $20-off offer) and buyers also get $200 worth of free books, videos and magazines, although this is not such a good deal as it sounds as you get a set package, including Veep and Freakonomics.

It’s a 7-inch tablet with a 1.2GHz quad core processor, 8Gb memory (expandable with up to 32Gb microSD card), built-in wi-fi (free wi-fi in Barnes & Noble stores), dual speakers, front and rear cameras and built-in GPS. The tablet weighs 9.7 ozs (276 grams) and the battery is claimed to last for up to 10 hours for general use. It runs Android 4.4 (Kit-Kat) OS and is available through Barnes & Noble and the Nook website.

There doesn’t appear to be anything that raises this device above the slightly outdated tablet it is and it’s puzzling to me why Nook would even bother to go to the lengths of co-branding. Why not concentrate on improving the app to make it the killer reading app that can be loaded on any device?

The expensive debacle of hardware development has surely shown Nook the inescapable truth that it is a content company and should be concentrating on marketing and displaying that content to best effect. This move to a tablet with what is likely to be patchy performance isn’t going to enhance anyone’s reputation.

The brave move would be to develop a super app that could be used to buy and display all file types from any of the ebook retailers, including titles with DRM.

I held out hope for Readmill, which aimed to create an open, independent reading platform, but it closed down a few months ago, after, in its own words, “failing to create a sustainable platform”.

The firm also noted “Many challenges in the world of ebooks remain unsolved” and it looks likely to stay that way for some time.


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