The Avengers, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones will soon be hitting the Nook. The tablet wars escalated again Tuesday as Barnes & Noble announced a video-streaming and download service to complement its new line of holiday-ready slabs: The 7-inch Nook HD ($199) targeting Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, and the 9-inch Nook HD+ ($299) taking aim at Apple's iPad. The new streaming service will let users download video from HBO, Viacom, Disney, and Sony Entertainment, and Barnes & Noble promises more partnerships with content providers soon. Nook Video will also let users integrate their DVD, Blu-Ray, and streaming video collections by using the UltraViolet service — viewers can begin a movie at home and continue watching it on the go. The move did not surprise analysts, who predicted that Barnes & Noble would introduce a video service after Amazon heated up the tablet race earlier this month by introducing the video-friendly Kindle Fire HD. Did B&N just get a leg up in the tablet wars, or is the company merely keeping stride?
The service is a must for B&N — but even it is not enough: Adding videos is absolutely "necessary" for the famed bookseller if it wants to "keep pace with Amazon's Kindle devices," says Phil Wahba at Reuters. Amazon already has an "enormous advantage" in that its customers can shop not only for books and entertainment, but for a wide variety of other physical products through its website. Eventually, Barnes & Noble is going to have to sell a wider product range, too, if it wants to stay competitive.
"Update 2 - Barnes & Noble to launch video service for Nook"
B&N's offering is actually better than Amazon in some ways: The key differentiator between B&N and Amazon is the UltraViolet service, which works like a "digital locker," says Melanie Pinola at TechHive. Nook owners can use it to store their existing content from physical media, like DVDs and Blu-Rays, in the Nook's Cloud service. Although UltraViolet's user base isn't that wide currently, the inclusion in Nook Video "may make the service more attractive to those of us with extensive disc collections." Amazon has some support for UltraViolet, but nowhere near the Nook's level.
"Barnes & Noble unveils Nook Video Service to challenge Amazon Instant Video"
Nice products, but they won't help Barnes & Noble: The new Nooks and video services will please existing customers, but they don't "fundamentally change the game for Barnes & Noble," says Sarah Rotman Epps at Forbes. The company still has the physical inventories of its brick-and-mortar stores to contend with as it hopes to simultaneously "grow its digital relationships with consumers." A recent Forrester survey reveals exactly how deep the fissure between Amazon and Barnes & Noble really is: 31 percent of customers say they have a credit card on file with Amazon, compared to only 5 percent with Barnes & Noble. Even with the new video store, Barnes & Noble "lags behind Amazon in giving consumers reason to engage, especially with services like Cloud, Prime, and eCommerce, beyond media."
"New Nooks quietly one-up Amazon, but don't change the game for Barnes & Noble"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- 10 things you need to know today: July 29, 2014
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Are there too many good shows on television?
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- Paul Ryan's anti-poverty plan is another sign of life in the GOP
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- How to trim $500 from your monthly spending
Subscribe to the Week