Samsung Nook: will it dethrone the Kindle Fire?

Aug 21, 2014

The Samsung Galaxy Nook faces an 'uphill struggle' to challenge Amazon's dominance of the e-reader market

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Samsung has teamed up with bookseller Barnes & Noble in an attempt to revive the fortunes of its ailing line of Nook e-readers.

The new edition of the Samsung Nook has divided tech analysts, some of whom believe that the Android-powered device will find a market due to the leverage and reach of the book retailer, while others say that consumer apathy towards low-cost tablets means that the device will face an "uphill struggle" from the very beginning.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is a "typical 7-inch Android tablet", Business Week says, and will go on sale in the US on Barnes & Noble’s website and in its 660 stores for $179 (£110), making it cheaper that rivals the Kindle Fire HDX and Kobo Arc 7HD.

Barnes & Noble say that consumers will instantly profit from their purchase, because the tablet comes with $200 worth of reading material. The bookseller hopes that its marriage of content and top-flight hardware will help them compete with the likes of Amazon.

Users who want to purchase books, magazines, and comics will be directed to Barnes & Noble's digital bookstore. All other content, including apps, music and films can be purchased through Google Play.

Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America, said that Samsung has taken the Galaxy tablet "and made it the best tablet available for reading and entertainment".

Barnes & Noble's primary goal is not to sell devices, says, "but to win back the share of the e-books market it lost after the Nook tablets it previously designed and made itself flopped and drained its coffers".

Ian Fogg, from the US-based consultancy IHS, told the BBC that while "it's very hard to make money out of mobile devices… by having this partnership, Barnes & Noble can have its own content and services pre-installed so that they are not just front-of-mind but also front-of-eyes for consumers".

Some experts say that the major problem for the device will be breaking Amazon's stranglehold over the e-reader market. Ben Wood, from the tech consultancy CCS Insight told the BBC that since "Amazon has pretty much locked out the market in reading-focused tablets anyway, the only thing I'd applaud here is the fact that Barnes & Noble has gone to Samsung, which can give it scale and quality".

Wood added: "There is growing consumer apathy to this growing class of low-cost tablets… Although there is the Nook angle on this, it goes into the melting pot with numerous other tablets that will appear in this price point as we run up to Christmas".

If it is to notch up some sales, the new-look Nook may only have a small window in which to operate. According to Business Week, Amazon's Lab126 division is currently working on a "secret reading device" code-named Ice Wine which is said to be "super-light and paper-thin".

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