Just a week before Amazon's heralded Kindle Fire goes on sale on Nov. 15, Barnes & Noble will announce a new Android-powered Nook Color e-reader tablet.
After Amazon announced its Fire a month ago ("Amazon Reinvents E-Reader With Kindle 'Fire' Tab"), it was clear that the clunky Nook Color was outclassed and would need a makeover.
Obviously what we'll see next week has been in the works for while – B&N knew it was only a matter of time before its original Nook Color would become antiquated. After all, Nook Color was hardly cutting edge when it was announced a year ago, merely new and different.
So what will the new Nook Color be?
The best Nook Color II supposition was posted even before the Fire was unveiled posted on The Digital Reader Web site.
According to the Web site, B&N will unveil two new Nook Colors – a 7-inch color LCD next-gen Nook called "Encore" ($249, the same as the current Nook Color) and a larger tablet dubbed "Acclaim" ($349).
Bear in mind this is all speculation. Now that we know Kindle Fire is $199 (as noted, The Digital Reader piece was published nearly a week prior to the Kindle Fire announcement), Barnes & Noble is likely to price the Nook Color II the same or less than the Fire. It better.
What a new Nook means
Even if the new Nook Color II is priced at Fire's $199, it's going to be hard for B&N to differentiate it e-reader tablet from Fire without some compelling new feature or technology – or pricing scheme.
The problem is Kindle Fire already has a compelling new technology – its Silk Web browser. Silk uses Amazon's powerful servers to deliver fully-constructed Web pages to the Fire nearly instantly – no more waiting for that progress bar to get everything on a Web page. Click a link and – POP! – the page appears.
Lacking something like Silk, Nook Color II or 2 or Encore or whatever it'll be called will have to have a faster processor than the current Nook and at least as powerful as the Fire's engine, and maybe a digital camera/video recorder (which Fire lacks), more extensive Android app compatibility than Nook Color currently has, and be more stylish, compact and lighter than either the current Nook Color and/or the Kindle Fire.
What I'm hoping is that B&N completely rethinks its Nook pricing, and adopts one of two different plans:
One, more of a cell phone/book club subsidized pricing model. Offer the new Nook Color at, say, $99, but the buyer would have to agree to buy X-number of books over the next year or two. That'd certainly douse the Fire flames.
Two, and/or, propose some sort of switch-from-Kindle plan – buy a new Nook Color and B&N will duplicate your current Kindle library up to a certain dollar amount. B&N tried this approach once ("Switch to Nook E-Reader, Get Free E-Books"), but this offer was less than inadequate.
A big Nook Color?
Potentially equally as fascinating, if The Digital Reader is right, is this larger $349 Acclaim tablet. This sounds like Ban's attempt to take on iPad head-on (I don't believe either Fire nor the Nook Color II are iPad alternatives).
According to The Digital Reader, B&N has some deal with both GameStop, the videogame retailer, and with Disney, and the site speculates the Acclaim will be gaming-centric, perhaps with a new kind of interactive book/game smash-up content.
Or, maybe, Acclaim will be just a larger color LCD e-reader. I hope not.
There's bound to be a lot more guessing about what B&N will unveil next Monday morning. I'll you know the facts as soon as I can that afternoon.