Tablets, Tablets Everywhere And Not A Moment To Think

Engadget’s Darren Murph broke some of the tech details last week on a new Barnes & Noble tablet that will compete with the Amazon Fire. It turns out that it’ll be unveiled today –- a bit earlier than Murph anticipated -– and whatever anybody else may say, the folks at B&N thinks they’ve got something that’s even better than the generally well-received Fire. They’ll have to, as some commentators point out.

Mashable will be among those reporting live from the presentation, which starts at 10 a.m. in New York.

Barnes & Noble and Amazon have been smart to stick to their knitting in their hardware, which is to say that they’ve focused on the reading experience.

“The traditional computing companies that are making tablets have embraced a computing-centric approach. The devices are often marketed more via specifications than on the experience the devices can provide,” writes Kevin C. Tofel in Bloomberg Businessweek. “Throwing more hardware inside a tablet doesn’t guarantee a bestseller.”



Throwing more content inside, however –- as both Amazon and Barnes & Noble can do and have done -– is a “better recipe for success.” The fact is, though, that Amazon has a much richer list of ingredients.

“Without Amazon's rich ecosystem of content, Barnes & Noble needs to double down on its strengths to avoid becoming irrelevant, writes Sascha Segan in “Now that the Nook app is on every Android tablet, Barnes & Noble needs to emphasize why its tablet is best for its content -- not for Netflix, not for Angry Birds, but for the billions of dollars in books and magazines that Barnes & Noble pays rent to display around the nation.”

But in addition to Hulu Plus, B&N’s Nook Color software now offers “access to Rhapsody, MOG, and Grooveshark and, of course, Pandora still works as it comes pre-installed. Real Simple and The New Yorker have been added to the Barnes and Noble library, and games such as Scrabble have been added to the basic Nook Color store of games,” writes Slashgear’s Chris Burns.

Tofel points out that both Fire and the Nook tablet are much more affordable than the iPad and that they “focus on providing a great experience for the functions that consumers most want: reading digital media, browsing the Web, consuming video content, checking email, and running a handful of popular applications.”

If you’re a bit flummoxed by all the tablet options suddenly on the market, hold on to your propeller beanies. Just this morning:

  • Reuters reports that HTC, the world's fifth-largest smartphone maker, will launch a new tablet model next year. It has had a model on the market since February.
  • reports that Motorola is planning a new six-inch Android 2.3 tablet codenamed Corvair that will also be a TV controller.
  • The Nationreports that Dell is launching the Latitude ST Tablet for business, healthcare and education markets. It runs on the Windows 7 OS and touts its attractiveness to IT administrators, who can “seamlessly manage the tablet like any other PC on their network.” Not a bad selling point in the business market.       

And mobile devices aren’t just going to be under the tree this holiday season. They are increasingly being used to determined what other brands will be purchased, according to two sources this morning.

Don’t miss Aaron Barr’s report today in Marketing Daily that in a survey of more than 1,000 respondents conducted by Mediabrands’ Shopper Science, 42% of shoppers said they “will spend more time doing online research before making a gift purchase this year than last year, and will be more likely to use emerging technologies to do so.” In fact, the mobile influence will be up 300% over the previous year.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Shan Li cites Deloitte’s annual holiday survey that determines that about one in four smartphone owners plans to use a mobile device for holiday shopping. “Of those, 59% will use their phones to compare or check prices, 46% plan to use them to check product availability and 41% will get coupons through their handsets,” Li reports.

A survey of the most useful apps that collate data from retailers allow consumers to compare prices side-by-side from local and online merchants follows.

I overheard a conversation this weekend about the best tablet apps for 2 and 3 year olds. Obviously, this is a market that will be growing at an exponential clip.

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