Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Here Comes the New Nook. Cloud Sold Separately.

Barnes & Noble shows off its new Nook in New York today, and unless we’ve all been victims of an elaborate prank, we know just about everything about the gadget. The big points are that it’s a lot like the old Android-based Nook Color, but more powerful, and it will cost $249 — $50 more than Amazon’s similar Kindle Fire.

As I noted last week, the new Nook will (reportedly) boast more speed and memory than Amazon’s tablet, and the assumption is that Barnes & Noble will argue that those specs are worth the extra money.

But unless Barnes & Noble has kept this part a real secret, the bookseller won’t offer a cloud service that’s anything like the one that Amazon has built.

Amazon is building up a semiclosed ecosystem, which will work best if consumers rely on it for access to not just books, but music and movies as well. Apple is building its own take on this idea, and Google is headed this way, too. But Barnes & Noble seems like it will ask consumers to rely on third-party services, like Hulu and Grooveshark, for access to songs and videos.

It’s entirely possible that all of these distinctions will be lost on people looking for a cheap-ish gadget that will let them read books and surf the Web. And presumably* both the Nook and the Fire do just fine when it comes to that.

But it will be interesting to see how Barnes & Noble treats the “C” word this morning. We’ll have live coverage starting around 9:45 a.m. ET.

*It’s important to remember that Amazon didn’t let any of the press that attended its Kindle Fire unveiling actually touch the device, so most of us are still fuzzy about how the thing actually works. I’m guessing that Barnes & Noble, which is (supposedly) going to start shipping its devices within a week, will let us feel up the Nook a bit today.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik