With Google throwing its 7in Nexus fondleslab into the market at $199 and Amazon widely expected to launch a an update to its Kindle line soon, Barnes & Noble has cut the price on its Nook Color and Tablet lines.
The Color e-book reader has dropped $20 in price to $149, as has the 8GB version of the Tablet to $179, and the 16GB Tablet falls from $249 to $199. Barnes & Noble is hoping that the low prices, and updates to its online store that launched last month, should help increase sales of both hardware and the media to play on it.
"Our Reader’s Tablets have consistently been the highest rated products by the leading technology experts and now they're available for the lowest prices ever," said Jamie Iannone, president of digital products at Barnes & Noble in a canned statement.
They move comes at a time of increasing turmoil in the smaller end of the tablet market. Samsung's seven incher may be blocked from sale in some areas due to Apple legal action, but there's plenty of new competition from Google, Amazon and others. Then there's the possibility that Apple might have a 7in fondleslab of its own coming out in time for the holiday season.
Steve Jobs was never a fan of the smaller format, but there have been persistent rumors that Apple will be launching a smaller iPad and the resultant device would hurt sales for others in the market. Apple is unlikely to try to compete on price and will suck in customers who like the size format and don't mind paying a premium for a flashy multi-use device.
While Barnes & Noble has carved out a solid niche for itself in the e-book reader market there are signs that the good sales times could be coming to an end. Research from Harris Poll suggests that the market for smaller slabs has reached saturation and there's little sign that the company could compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung in the long term. ®