• Print

B&N sorely needs to make a mark

The Nook price reduction may not be too late, but it's most certainly too little.

Ahead of its 7-inch Nook HD and 9-inch HD+ release this week, B&N has reduced the price of its Nook Color and Nook tablets. The Nook Color dropped $10 to $139, and the tablets dropped $20 to $179 for the 16GB model and $159 for the 8GB model. The price reduction might make a tiny wave for advertising purposes for a few days, and it brings the Nook pricing more in line with Kindle pricing Amazon already had, but $10-$20 is hardly going to leave a mark on the tablet market — and B&N sorely needs to make a mark at this point.

The release of the iPad mini is garnering the bulk of the current tablet buzz, and if executives at B&N are keeping up, they should be feeling nervous — not because the iPad mini is a better device than any of the Nook models (I’m sure that’s up for debate), but because the Nook devices and B&N aren’t even scoring ink in many reports.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, who covers tech and business at ZDNet, consulted experts to compare and comment on tablet displays; the tablets experts went to were Apple, Amazon and Google devices.

Angle investor, entrepreneur and industry analyst Jason Calacanis commented on the iPad mini in a review on his Launch Ticker, and in his first assessment (at 11:15 Friday on the The Ticker) he said: “This is going to be a huge, huge win for Apple, and I’m certain we’ll see at least a 10-20% price drop after the holiday. When this becomes a $249 or $219 device it’s going to fly off shelves. Also, this really puts the pressure on Google and Amazon.”

B&N didn’t even warrant pressure. These are just two examples, but still, it’s illuminating. It’s starting to feel like we’re closing in on the point where any move B&N may make in the coming months will be a last ditch effort to remain relevant in the tablet arena. O’Reilly publisher and GM Joe Wikert has suggested B&N offer a membership program, but I think we’re past that — I think it’s time for Wikert’s more recent suggestion of offering the low-end Nook for free with a long-term purchasing commitment of some sort. And B&N needs to jump on this soon.

It’s not a question of if the free-device-with-a-subscription-service is going to happen, but when and who — and this isn’t a trick you want to follow. The first one to do it is going to corner the low-end mass market, along with securing long-term ecosystem commitments in exchange. If B&N isn’t the one to make this wave, it may miss its chance altogether.

TOC NY 2013— The publishing industry will gather at the Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York City, February 12-14, to explore the forces and solutions that are transforming publishing.Save 15% on registration with the code COMM15

Related:

tags: , , , , , , ,