I've been following the development of smartphones, tablets, and single-purpose devices for quite a while in this blog, but every time I think that the market for e-book readers has calmed down, another announcement in the sector adds a new competitive dimension. A couple of weeks ago, Barnes & Noble introduced its own e-book reader, the Nook, just ahead of the holiday shopping season.
Back in the summer, I openly questioned what Barnes & Noble or Plastic Logic could do to disrupt the Kindle. After all, the Kindle itself is disruptive of the traditional book market, and it's notoriously hard to disrupt the disruptor.
[ Also on InfoWorld, see Zack Urlocker's first discussions of business disruption: "Disruption as a business strategy?" and "What does it take to create business disruption?" | Keep up with the latest open source news with InfoWorld's open source newsletter and topic center. ]
The Nook does have some nice incremental improvements over the Kindle: two screens, the familiar e-ink black-and-white reader screen that dominates the device's surface, a smaller horizontal color LCD at the bottom of the device used for navigation, typing on a virtual keyboard, and so on. It also has built-in Wi-Fi, a replaceable battery, and an SD slot, all of which are missing from Amazon's Kindle. The Nook matches the Kindle's lower $259 price, effectively forcing Amazon to drop the price of its global Kindle by $20. It's clear that Amazon is paying attention to what Barnes & Noble is doing. It won't cede any ground it doesn't have to.