Barnes & Noble to Release Nook Color e-Readers, Android Tablets for Holidays
The holiday season is nearing, and gadget-makers are scrambling to be in the lead in terms of sales and market share. Just as Amazon is promising to announce its new Kindle this week, Barnes & Noble is reportedly planning the launch of new Nook Color Android tablets priced at $349.

It's no secret that the 7-inch Barnes & Noble Nook Color is actually an Android tablet in the guise of an ebook reader. The tablet is notoriously easy to root, which gives it full Android capabilities such as Android Market apps, which are unavailable out of the box. The company markets it as an e-reader, though, which might be why it's among the best-selling tablets in the U.S. At $249, it doesn't cause sticker shock, and less tech-savvy users won't have to complain about the complications of a tablet PC. It's the kind of gift you'd want to give a relative or family member who loves reading books and online content, but who's not necessarily an expert at using computers.

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Barnes & Noble's Nook Color -- an Android tablet disguised as an e-reader -- competes with Kindle

Is $250 the Sweet Spot for a Tablet or e-Reader?

Barnes & Noble is reportedly developing two tablets to launch before the year ends. One is codenamed Encore, an upgrade to the Nook Color, a $249 Android tablet to compete with the upcoming Amazon Kindle. The other is a bigger, more expensive variant. Sources say the more expensive tablet -- code named Acclaim -- will be priced at $349, and will be available in Q4 2011. However, no other details were disclosed, including processor speed, screen size and features.

Learning Opportunities

Barnes & Noble's choice of price point is interesting. With Amazon planning the launch of its $250 Kindle tablet this week, does it make sense to produce a competitor that's $100 more expensive? The NOOKcolor can already compete in terms of price, at $249, and Encore will be a likely successor. But as for the more expensive Acclaim, B&N would have to up the ante if it wants to successfully compete in a price range dominated by the likes of the iPad 2.

Collaborations With Content Partners

Sources say the more expensive Acclaim might include premium content from Disney (which Barnes & Noble has collaborated with, for the Nook Color), or might be distributed via GameStop. There is no confirmation as to these possibilities at this time, though. But as e-readers are increasingly eating into the tablet computer's market space, should mainstream tablet makers like Apple, Asus and Samsung be worried?