Technology

The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

Category: Barnes & Noble

Tablet, e-reader ownership in U.S. jumps to 19% over the holidays

Kindle-stack

Remember when seeing an iPad on a bus, an airplane or the subway was a startling new experience?  Now you might be startled not to see one.

Over the holidays, so many people bought tablets for each other (and, presumably, themselves), that U.S. tablet ownership nearly doubled among adults, to 19% in January from 10% a month earlier.  The rate is growing quickly: In May 2010, shortly after the debut of the iPad, only about 3% of consumers over age 16 owned tablets, according to survey information from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The survey found a similar jump in e-reader ownership, as prices dropped below $100 for electronic book readers from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Nearly 20% of U.S. adults now own an e-reader, up from 10% in November.

Tablet and e-reader adoption continues to grow quickly just as sales of traditional personal computers slow and even decline.  In the U.S., PC sales last year had their worst year since 2001, dropping nearly 5% compared with 2010, according to research firm IDC.  Analysts and PC industry executives regularly cite the increasing popularity of tablets when talking about the slowing growth of the PC businesses.

According to the survey, tablet adoption is now the highest among wealthier and more educated buyers.  About 36% of those making more than $75,000 a year own a tablet computer, compared with about 16% of those making $30,000 to $50,000, although ownership rates in both groups appear to be growing quickly. The discrepancy is also substantial between college graduates, 31% of whom own tablets, and high school grads, at 15%.

RELATED:

Apple iPad 3: Launching in February, March, or later?

Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author: Bids to own publishing's future

Apple looms large over the Consumer Electronics Show, despite not showing up

-- David Sarno

Photo: Boxes of Kindle e-readers sit at an Amazon.com distribution center. Credit: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg.

Apple's iBooks 2, iBooks Author: Bids to own publishing's future

Apple's new iBooks 2, iBooks Author and iTunes U apps are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing

NEWS ANALYSIS: Alongside Apple stating that iBooks 2 and textbooks on the iPad would reinvent the textbook as we know it, the iPad-maker announced Thursday that it would also attempt to reinvent book-making by way of an app called iBooks Author.

The Apple-developed app, available as a free download from the Mac App Store, (ideally) makes it easy to make books for the iPad. But together, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author are moves to capture the future of education and self-publishing, and to continue to build on the success Apple had under the late Steve Jobs.

If you've ever used Apple's Keynote or Pages (or Microsoft's PowerPoint or Word) apps, then you should be able to hit the ground running in iBooks Author. There are templates for different types of book layouts, and adding the interactive 3-D models, photos, videos and diagrams that Apple demoed iBooks 2 textbooks on Thursday is as easy as clicking and dragging a built-in widget -- provided you've already produced the video, photos, diagrams and models you want to use.

Apple has even built into iBook Author HTML5 and Javascript support for programmers looking to take their books beyond what the app can do itself; multi-touch interactions for pinch and zoom views of photos and swiping gestures are also included.

Want to see what your book looks like before you publish it to iBooks? Just connect your Mac to an iPad by way of a USB cable and you can preview the book on the tablet.

The aim of the iBooks Author app is to make it easy to get these impressive multimedia elements, as well as questionnaires and other educational materials, into a page of text and published as a book on the iPad as easy as possible -- whether you're a self-publisher looking to write your first book, a teacher whipping up something quick for a special class, or a publishing powerhouse like the textbook trifecta of McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Before his death, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed Apple could disrupt the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry. Jobs said in Isaacson's book, titled simply "Steve Jobs," that the iPad was the tool to make transformation in the textbook business a reality.

According to the book, Jobs' idea "was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple."

Jobs told Isaacson "the process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt ... but if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don't have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money."

In announcing the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author products, Apple is beginning to bring a piece of Jobs' long-term vision to fruition. The company also noted Thursday that there are currently about 1.5 million iPads being used in schools and more than 20,000 education apps sitting in its iOS App Store.

But make no mistake, iBooks 2 and iBooks Author aren't just about textbooks. The two new apps are working together to entice students, teachers, educational institutions to embrace and buy the iPad in bigger numbers than they already have.

On Thursday, in announcing the new products, Apple made no mention of new discounts on iPads for students or schools -- though Apple has offered such discounts in the past on Macs and even created special versions of the iMac for schools. Apple even built the now-defunct eMac line specifically to sell to schools.

Apple wants us to ditch the paperback and hardcover textbooks in favor of an iPad and digital downloads, that much is obvious. But the company also wants the iPad and Macs to become to go-to devices for educational institutions and publishing houses.

Although Apple's iTunes is the world's most popular online music storefront, Amazon is the world's largest seller of e-books. By adding a level of interactivity to books that Amazon and others simply can't match, and by making it easier to publish a book and sell it in the iBooks app directly from iBooks Author, Apple has made a move to challenge Amazon and its Kindle e-reader and Kindle Touch tablet as the preferred platform for self-publishers and digital textbooks.

In a statement announcing iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, Apple said as much (without naming Amazon and other e-book rivals such as Google and Barnes & Noble).

"iBooks Author is also available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple's iBookstore," Apple said.

The apps are also a challenge to Adobe, a company Apple has been known to partner with and feud with from time to time. Adobe's Creative Suite, Digital Publishing Suite and Touch Apps, available on both Windows PCs and Macs, are some of the most popular tools used by publishing houses and self-publishers looking to create a book, whether an e-book or a book before it heads to print.

Though capable of producing many different types of content for a broader range of devices, Adobe's software can cost thousands of dollars, while Apple's iBooks Author app is free.

Apple on Thursday also released an iTunes U app, which allows teachers from kindergarten to the university level to stream video of their lectures and post class notes, handouts, reading lists, etc., all within the app.

Previously, iTunes U was a podcasting service for college professors who wanted to put up video or audio of their lectures. Now it is one more reason for a teacher to consider an iPad and a Mac as tools to reach students at any grade level. And like iBooks Author, the app is free.

In my opinion, Apple is one of the best companies out there at providing lower-cost products that pull consumers into an ecosystem of apps and gadgets. It's one of the reason the company has so many cult-like followers.

For many Apple fans, their first purchase was an iPod or iPhone. With those purchases comes buying apps, music, movies and TV shows from iTunes. And for many, later comes a MacBook or an iMac computer. This strategy is repeating itself with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author.

First, get students and teachers to use more iPads in school by offering affordable and engaging digital textbooks. With iBook textbooks capped at a price of $14.99, I have to wonder whether or not textbooks will become shorter and more narrow, and thus students and teachers we'll have to buy more of them. Second, make it easy for anybody to produce their own iBooks (textbooks or otherwise) and then sell those books in the iBooks app, luring in aspiring authors. When those students, teachers and authors go to download music or a movie, set up a cloud storage service or buy a laptop, a phone, a new tablet -- maybe someday a TV -- what brand will be at the top of minds? Apple.

iBooks, iBooks Author and iTunes U, together are a move to fend off Google, Amazon, Adobe and other competitors in determining the future of education, publishing and book reading. Together, the launch of these apps is an attempt to not only maintain but also expand Apple's current success into the company's post-Jobs future.

RELATED:

Apple says iBooks 2 app reinvents textbooks

Apple iPad 3: Launching in February, March, or later?

Apple looms large over the Consumer Electronics Show, despite not showing up

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Apple's iBook Author app on an iMac, and an iBook and an iPad. Credit: Apple

Barnes & Noble considering selling Nook business

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble said Thursday that it is evaluating the possible sale of its growing Nook e-reader and tablet business, which hit a record level of sales over the holiday season.

"We see substantial value in what we've built with our Nook business in only two years, and we believe it's the right time to investigate our options to unlock that value," said William Lynch, Barnes & Noble's chief executive, in a statement. "In Nook, we've established one of the world's best retail platforms for the sale of digital copyright content. We have a large and growing installed base of millions of satisfied customers buying digital content from us, and we have a Nook business that's growing rapidly year-over-year and should be approximately $1.5 billion in comparable sales this fiscal year."

"Between continued projected growth in the U.S., and the opportunity for Nook internationally in the next 12 months, we expect the business to continue to scale rapidly for the foreseeable future," Lynch said.

Shareholder's weren't particularly pleased Thursday with the idea of spinning off Barnes & Noble's Nook business into a separate company or selling the Nook unit altogether.

Shares of the New York-based company fell about 20% on the news of a possible spin off, which also came alongside word that the bookstore chain also expects "full year losses per share to be in a range of $1.40 to $1.10."

Holiday sales at Barnes & Noble retail stores rose 2.5%, to about $1.2 billion, over the last nine weeks of 2011 when compared with the same period in 2010. Meanwhile, during that period, sales of Nook devices and digital content rose 43% from a year earlier.

The company also said it was "in discussions with strategic partners including publishers, retailers, and technology companies in international markets that may lead to expansion of the Nook business abroad."

As for how long Barnes & Noble will take to decide just what it will or won't do with its Nook unit, the bookseller isn't saying.

"There can be no assurance that the review of a potential separation of the Nook digital business will result in a separation," Barnes & Noble said. "There is no timetable for the review, and the company does not intend to comment further regarding the review, unless and until a decision is made."

Barnes & Noble didn't release specific sales numbers for Nook devices, or for the sale of Nook e-books, apps and other digital content, but it did say that even in that segment of its company there is some mixed performance.

For the last nine weeks of 2011, digital content sales grew 113% from the same period 2010 and overall sales of Nook devices were up 70% from a year earlier, setting a new holiday record for the company.

But sales of the Nook Tablet "exceeded expectations, while sales of Nook Simple Touch lagged expectations, indicating a stronger customer preference for color devices," Barnes & Noble said.

[Updated 5:19 p.m.: Barnes & Noble fell Thursday $2.32, or 17%, to close at $11.23 per share.]

RELATED:

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet review [Video]

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch e-reader drops to $99

Kindle Fire continues streak as Amazon's top selling item

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh/Los Angeles Times

Kindle Fire customers irked, but sales still expected to be huge

Kindlefire

Amazon.com's Kindle Fire continues to feel the heat.

A day after Amazon said it would provide an over-the-air software update to its tablet one month after its release, customers say they're still miffed and note that the update won't fix the device's hardware issues, which include its small screen, lack of external volume controls and a poorly placed on/off button.

And interestingly, some buyers are viewing the need for a software update as an admission from Amazon that its first tablet is far from perfect. 

Dan Karagozian of Glendale said he bought five Kindle Fires on Friday as Christmas presents after debating between Amazon's device and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet. 

Now he's having second thoughts. The 53-year-old said he was enticed by the device's cloud feature, price and content offerings, but was upset that no one from Amazon mentioned to him that a software update was needed when he called customer service before placing his order. He called the update a "red flag."

"Yes? No? Who knows," he said about whether he made the right buy. "I think I made a good choice, but again, when the update stuff starts coming out, it makes you wonder."

Another Kindle Fire buyer wrote an email to me saying she was having a bit of buyer's remorse.

"I bought mine as soon as Amazon offered it, and received it on November 16, which means I have two days remaining to decide whether or not to keep it," the Huntington Beach resident said.

Ralph Kaye, a reader from Torrance, said he and his wife were worried about buying a Kindle Fire because of rumors that Amazon may release a 2.0 version as soon as next spring to make up for the flaws in its first-generation model.

"I would not feel very good about buying a machine which will be an older model in a couple of months," said Kaye, 69. 

But despite concerns from shoppers and some analysts, other tech industry watchers are more bullish. In a note to investors Tuesday, Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini said she expected the Kindle Fire to make Amazon an even more prominent company and predicted Kindle Fire sales would reach 6 million units in its first quarter of release. 

"In our view, the company's evolutionary cycle will continue at a frenzied pace, and it is only over the next few years that we will truly be able to see the value that can be derived," she said. "Add to this the introduction of the Kindle Fire (U.S. only) in November of this year, where we expect 50% conversion rates, and that will only further engrain Amazon into its customers' minds."

Despite the Kindle Fire's flaws, Bellini noted that shoppers have rapidly adopted Amazon's first tablet -- a feat that "does not surprise us."

"While the Kindle Fire certainly doesn’t have the breadth of functionality of the iPad (no camera or microphone, shorter battery life and less memory), it does a few things very well, which just happen to be the few actions that users utilize the tablet form factor most often for, in our view," she said.

How do you like your Kindle Fire? Are the negative reviews making you reconsider a Nook Tablet or causing you to shell out for Apple's iPad? Check out some Times reviews of various tablets below.

RELATED: 

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet review [video]

Amazon Kindle Fire review [video]

Review: A look at Apple's iPad2

-- Andrea Chang

twitter.com/byandreachang

Photo: A Kindle Fire at a Best Buy store in Los Angeles in November. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Google's Android Market passes 10 billion downloads

10 Billion Downloads! - Android Market

Google's Android Market has passed 10 billion app downloads, a major milestone for the world's most widely used mobile operating system.

"One billion is a pretty big number by any measurement. However, when it’s describing the speed at which something is growing, it’s simply amazing," said Eric Chu, director of the Android Developer Ecosystem, in a company blog post. "This past weekend, thanks to Android users around the world, Android Market exceeded 10 billion app downloads -- with a growth rate of 1 billion app downloads per month."

The massive number is even more impressive when considering the fragmentation found on Android, with companies such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Yahoo hosting Android app stores of their own, in addition to independent app stores such as GetJar.

Apple passed 15 billion downloads from its App Store in July, noting that there are more than 200 million iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users worldwide.

More than 200 million Android smartphones and tablets have been sold and about 550,000 new Android activations take place each day, Google has said.

To celebrate passing the 10-billion-download mark, Google and a number of developers are offering selected apps for 10 cents for a limited time, Chu said.

"Starting today for the next 10 days, we'll have a new set of awesome apps available each day for only 10 cents each," he said. "Today, we are starting with Asphalt 6 HD, Color & Draw for Kids, Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro, Fieldrunners HD, Great Little War Game, Minecraft, Paper Camera, Sketchbook Mobile, Soundhound Infinity & Swiftkey X."

Each day, until the 10-day period is up, Google will offer another 10 apps for 10 cents each, as listed on the Android Market.

RELATED:

Yahoo reportedly launching store for Android apps in Japan

Carrier IQ disputes spying accusations; security researchers agree 

Apple's App Store passes 15 billion downloads, 425,000 apps available

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A screen shot of Google's Android Market. Credit: Google

Cyber Monday deals 2011: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Dell and more

Dell.com Sony Google TV on sale for Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is to online shopping what Black Friday is to brick-and-mortar retail stores. And Cyber Monday 2011 is expected to be a big one -- possibly record-setting.

But, just as with Black Friday, everyone seems to be having a sale, and finding what you actually want online and not just what's cheap can become a chore.

So what sort of Web-only deals are out there? Here are a few from some major retailers.

Amazon

Discounted goods on Amazon.com can be found pretty much all year. So while a sale is nothing new for the online retail giant, the company is promising that it's Cyber Monday discounts will be significant. However, unlike most retailers, Amazon's Cyber Monday promotion isn't lasting just one day, but instead all week. Head over to Amazon.com for details.

Barnes & Noble

Amazon's e-reading and tablet rival, Barnes & Noble, is having a one-day Cyber Monday sale too. Among the promotions is a free $25 Barnes & Nobe gift card with the MasterCard purchase of a Nook Simple Touch e-reader, a Nook Color tablet or Nook Tablet. If you use any other payment method to buy a Nook you'll get no free gift card.

The bookstore chain, which sells DVDs, Blu-Rays, CDs and toys too, is also offering 30% off of any one item, 50% off New York Times bestselling books and up to 70% off Blu-Ray movies. Head over to BN.com for details.

Best Buy

Best Buy is the largest bricks-and-mortar consumer electronics retailer out there, but it doesn't shy away from Cyber Monday. Among the price cuts: a 55-inch Samsung LED-backlit TV, normally $1,500, is selling for $999.99, the HTC Titan running Windows Phone and the HTC Wildfire S running Android are both free with a new two-year contract, point-and-shoot cameras are $40 to $80 off, a number of laptops are on sale including a 15.6-inch Toshiba Satellite for $279.99, and Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch e-reader is down to $79.99 from $99.99. Head over to BestBuy.com for details. 

Dell

Dell also regularly offers discounts on its website, but for Cyber Monday it has discounted 21 specific items, some of which are already sold out. The computer maker dropped the price a variation of its Inspiron 14R from $499.99 to $399.99, selling out its run of that laptop. Other laptops are on sale to, but at only $50 off rather than $100, such as the Inspiron 15, Inspiron 15R and Inspiron 17R.

Dell is also offering a $600 discount, down to $798, on a 46-inch Sony Google TV with 1080p resolution. And the Nintendo Wii with the New Super Mario Bros. game is down $15 to $134.99. Head over to Dell.com for details.

Staples

Staples is offering a wide range of discounts on gadgets, furniture and office supplies, including as much as $200 off Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard laptops, as much as $130 off printers, as much as $100 off point-and-shoot cameras and up to 50% off office chairs. Head over to Staples.com for details.

Verizon

Verizon Wireless' Cyber Monday sale is nearly the same as its Black Friday promotion: the Motorola Xoom 4G tablet is down to $199.99 and the HTC Droid Incredible 2, Sony Xperia Play and Motorola Droid Pro are free, as long as you get each item with a new two-year data plan as well. Head over to Verizon.com for details.

ALSO:

Asus Transformer Prime available for pre-order

Black Friday? How about ‘update your parents' browser day’?

Amazon: Kindle Black Friday sales quadruple; Kindle Fire tops sales

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screenshot of Dell's Cyber Monday sale at Dell.com. Credit: Dell

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet review [Video]

If you're looking for a low-priced tablet this year, Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet is one you'll want to consider.

At $249, the Nook Tablet is a bit more expensive than the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Nook Color and the Kobo Vox, each of which are selling at about $200. But, the Nook Tablet is a better piece of hardware than its $200 rivals and the extra dough wouldn't be spent in vain.

On the outside, the Nook Tablet looks identical to the Nook Color, except that the Tablet comes in a lighter color than the Color's dark charcoal gray.

Kindle Fire and Nook TabletThe 7-inch screen, with a 1024-by-600 resolution, on the Nook Tablet is also the exact same display as the touchscreen used in the Nook Color. And the Nook Tablet is also slightly lighter than the Nook Color, weighing in at 14.1 ounces instead of 15.8, though most may not even notice.

Where the difference between the Nook Tablet and its rivals can be found is on the inside and in using the device day to day. The Nook Tablet features a 1-gigahertz processor (same as the Kindle Fire), 1 gigabyte of RAM (as opposed to the Color and Fire's 512 megabytes of RAM) and 16 gigabytes of built-in storage (the Color and the Fire each have 8 gigabytes built in).

In use -- reading books, streaming movies, launching apps, sending and receiving email -- nearly everything I did on the Nook Tablet was quicker than when I did the same things on the $200 tablets. Simple functions such as rotating the screen from portrait to landscape orientation in an app was faster and turning pages in e-books felt less laggy too.

Screen Shot 2011-11-26 at 11.03.14 AMBoth the Barnes & Noble and Amazon devices run highly modified versions of Google's Android Honeycomb operating system and as such, both run Android apps. Barnes & Noble's Nook Store for apps offers fewer apps than the Kindle Fire's Amazon Appstore for Android, but I had a much harder time finding apps that felt like stretched out smartphone apps on the Nook -- that's a plus in my opinion. I'd rather have a smaller selection of apps that work well than a larger selection of apps that may or may not work as the developer intended them to.

There's also something to be said for the Nook Tablet and Nook Color's style. The two share the same external design, but both look noticeably different than what else is out there in lower and higher price points. The plastics used on the Barnes & Noble devices have a slight softness to them that make the device comfortable to hold for long periods of time when reading or watching a movie. The display is one of the nicest I've seen in 7-inch devices. Books, apps, video, websites all looked great on the Nook Tablet (just as they did on the Nook Color) and didn't kick back as much glare as I found on the Kindle Fire.

Screen Shot 2011-11-26 at 11.00.28 AMThe one weak point I can point to on the hardware of the Nook Tablet is that the 16 gigabytes of built-in storage reserves 15 gigabytes of that space for content purchased from Barnes & Noble and downloaded to the device. Only 1 gigabyte is made available for content you buy from outside of the bookstore chain and that just isn't enough.

The Nook Color takes the same approach, setting aside 7 gigabytes of the 8 gigabytes included for items purchased from Barnes & Noble.

Unlike the Kindle Fire, the Nooks include a microSD card slot, so you can expand storage if you'd like. But the problem here is that Barnes & Noble has no online storefront for music, movies or TV shows as Amazon does.

Continue reading »

Black Friday: Barnes & Noble to sell a $79 Nook Simple Touch

BN.com screenshot

Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch e-reader is getting a $79 variant just for Black Friday.

A limited number of the devices will be available at that price in stores only and only on the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

The Black Friday edition is the same as the regular $99 unit available in Barnes & Noble bookstores and online, except that the Black Friday edition has a white rim. The regular Simple Touch's rim is the same dark blue-gray as the rest of the exterior.

The other specs are the same. The device weighs 7.48 ounces, measures 6.5 inches tall and five inches wide and is about as thick as a No. 2 pencil. The 6-inch eInk screen renders text in black and white. The battery can go an average of two months before needing a charge. The e-reader can store about 1,000 books. More storage is available using the device's SD card slot.

The Simple Touch also features a nice concave back making it more comfortable to hold during long reading sessions.

Barnes & Noble didn't say how many of the special units would be sold, but they're likely to sell out quickly, as many deals on Black Friday do.

The company's biggest competitor, Amazon.com, sells a Kindle e-reader year-round at $79 but that unit lacks a touchscreen and runs ads on its home screen and screen saver. A touchscreen Kindle sells for $99 but still, unlike the Nook, runs ads. To get an ad-free Kindle, $139 is the starting price.

RELATED:

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch e-reader drops to $99

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet: $199, 7-inch screen, ships Nov. 15

Barnes & Noble unveils Nook Tablet at $249 as Kindle Fire rival

— Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Image: The Black Friday edition of the Nook Simple Touch as shown on BN.com. Credit: Barnes & Noble

New Netflix app ready for Kindle Fire and Nook, but not iPad

Netflix announced a revamped tablet app now available for the Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble's Nook, but not for the iPad

The great tech horse race of 2011 pits the iPad, that thoroughbred of tablet computers, against a pair of new lightweight fillies, the Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble's Nook

But this year, the race may not be decided by horsepower alone. Indeed, in the run-up to the frenzied holiday buying season, the Android manufacturers are focusing less on their devices' technical prowess, and more on the kinds of things that people can do with them.

Last week, Amazon announced that the Kindle Fire will feature a "Lending Library" that will let paying users borrow a limited selection of books. Then Amazon pushed Hulu Plus, saying the for-pay TV and movie rental service would also be available on its Kindle Fire, along with music apps Pandora and Rhapsody.

And now, not to be left behind, Netflix is joining the party, announcing a revamped tablet app now available for the Fire and the Nook.

But not for the iPad. That version will arrive "in the coming weeks," the company said.

"It's nothing more than a timing issue," wrote Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey in an email, explaining that the Android release was timed to coincide with the Kindle Fire and Nook releases this week, and that there was no favoritism involved. "Netflix is agnostic on platforms -– no preferences or priorities," he wrote.

Still, that means iPad owners will have to be content with the older version of the Netflix app. Swasey did not reply to a question about whether the new version of the iPad app would be available by holiday buying time.

The new app, which Android users can download now, fits twice as many movies on the screen as the earlier version, and lets users easily swipe through many categories of films and TV shows, as well as begin streaming videos directly from within the app.

Check this space for continuing handicapping of the tablet derby.

RELATED:

Amazon Kindle Fire unboxed, first look [Video]

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet: $199, 7-inch screen, ships Nov. 15

Barnes & Noble unveils Nook Tablet at $249 as Kindle Fire rival

-- David Sarno

Twitter.com/dsarno

Image: The new Netflix app for Android.  Credit: Netflix

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch e-reader drops to $99

Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch eReader

Barnes & Noble dropped the price on its Nook e-reader, now renamed the Nook Simple Touch, to $99 on Monday.

The price cut, down from $139, came alongside the unveiling of the new Nook Tablet at $250 and the drop in price of the Nook Color tablet to $200 from $250.

Along with the price change will come a software change to all touch-screen e-Ink Nooks that will result in faster page turns and sharper text, the bookseller said. The Nook's hardware will remain the same, with a promised battery life of two months with about 1 hour of reading a day and a 6-inch touchscreen.

The Nook Simple Touch's price drop will put the device even in price with Amazon's upcoming Kindle Touch with Special Offers, which runs ads on the Kindle's home screen and screen saver (something the Nook doesn't do). 

RELATED:

Kobo Vox tablet, $200, to take on Kindle Fire, Nook Color

Barnes & Noble unveils Nook Tablet at $249 as Kindle Fire rival

Barnes & Noble's revamped Nook has a touchscreen, 2-month battery life

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Image: Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch e-reader. Credit: Barnes & Noble Inc.

Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Videos

How to Reach Us

To pass on technology-related story tips, ideas and press releases, contact our reporters listed below.

To reach us by phone, call (213) 237-7163

Email: business@latimes.com

Andrea Chang
Armand Emamdjomeh
Jessica Guynn
Jon Healey
W.J. Hennigan
Tiffany Hsu
Deborah Netburn
Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Alex Pham
David Sarno


Categories


Archives