updated 09:20 am EST, Tue February 21, 2012
Barnes and Noble intros cheaper Nook Tablet
Barnes & Noble fired its return shot against the Kindle Fire on Tuesday by introducing an 8GB version of the Nook Tablet. Its edition cuts the storage in half, and lowers the RAM to 512MB, but is otherwise functionally identical to the 16GB original. The two choices trim $50 off the price to hit $199, or as much as the Nook Tablet's Amazon counterpart.
The price slash has also given Barnes & Noble a reason to cut the price on the Nook Color. At $169, it's now the least expensive, major color e-reader, although it forgoes the dual-core processors of either the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire.
8GB Nook Tablets are available immediately from Barnes & Noble's website and should reach the retailers that carry the Nook line, such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, in "coming weeks."
The price drop comes as Barnes & Noble still fought to keep above board in its transition over to digital. The company made $52 million in profit, a marked turnaround from previous losses, but would have been flat if not for deferring the impact of textbook rentals.
It still expected to lose money for its full fiscal year ending in April, with a pre-taxes earnings loss of $150 million to $180 million. The company attributed at least some of the decline, including an online group loss of $94 million, to spending on building out the Nook business. The Nook division's revenues were up 38 percent year to year and made $542 million, with sheer hardware units up 64 percent, but were partly offset by poor sales of traditional products online.
Along with competition with Amazon, a major test of Barnes & Noble could come next month with the third-generation iPad. Although priced much higher, its 2048x1536 display could provide a clear difference in the quality of magazines and other reading.