Kindle Fire vs Nook Tablet – Media Device vs eReader

These 2 Android tablets are often mentioned in the same breath, and most bloggers assume that they are direct competitors. But if my new supposition is correct, users don't see these devices as competitors. I got into a discussion earlier this week with one of my contacts at ReaderDock, and he let slip a rather important detail about these 2 tablets. ReaderDock is a brand you might recognize. Early this year they announced a pair of speaker docks for the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet. The docks are the same basic design with 2 speakers, a spot for the device, and so on. The docks wouldn't be much use if all you want to do is read on the device, but if you want to play music or movies then they would have the same appeal as the docks for iPods.

The dock for the Nook was announced first, and it also went up for pre-order first. So you'd think that it might lead in orders, or at least come in a not to distant second? That's not what happened.

I'll admit that based on the pitch at the launch event, the Nook Tablet would come across as a media device. And based on the iSuppli figures for last year there are about as many Nook Tablets out there as Kindle Fires (plus or minus 20%). So I was quite surprised to learn that ReaderDock was taking 3 pre-orders for the Kindle Fire dock for each one they received for the Nook Tablet dock.

Yes, the ratio is 3 to 1. Let's think about why that maybe.

While you might argue that there are 3 times as many KFs out there, it seems unlikely. It would mean that Amazon sold around 10 to 12 million Kindle Fires since launch.  Yes, that is possible, but I think it more likely that Nook Tablets owners don't see their device as a media tablet; it's an enhanced ereader.

For all that it might do more than your average ereader, I think owners still see it as one. And in the long run that is probably going to hurt its prospects. For example, Barnes & Noble is probably working on their own speaker dock for the Nook Tablet. I don't think it will go over well, even if B&N launches it with a big showy press event.

This might not seem important, but one of the Kindle Fire's strengths for Amazon is that people use it to buy apps, music, video, as well as other stuff from Amazon. That makes the KF more profitable on average than the Nook Tablet, which gives Amazon another club with which to beat their competition.

Should B&N ever follow Amazon's lead and start selling media for the Nook Tablet, I think they may have some trouble. Their current customers don't see the Nook Tablet as a media device; it's an ereader.

P.S. I have posted before on why I didn't want to keep my Nook Tablet. It is heartening to know that the people who use the device see it the same way.

About Nate Hoffelder (11370 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

19 Comments on Kindle Fire vs Nook Tablet – Media Device vs eReader

  1. I actually use my nook color primarily for apps/ children’s books rather than reading.

    This seems cool, but I’ve never heard of it because they don’t allow Barnes and Noble to sell it in the store.

    Perhaps Amazon customers are less irritated at having to order something online.

  2. As a Nook Tablet owner, I have to agree. I don’t see it as a media device. But then I have never been much interested in listening to music while I read (as an opera lover, I prefer to concentrate on the music when playing music and as a reader, I prefer to concentrate on reading when I read), and have no interest in watching Netflix or Hulu on the device (of course, I never watch TV as TV anyway; I use my TV only for watching movies on occasion). I’m also not a video game player. I think it has been 20 years since the original SimCity was released, which was the last game I spent 5 minutes playing (I have no game apps nor have I bought or downloaded any games to my PC). I guess I’m just not a typical tablet person.

    I use my tablet to read ebooks and magazines and newspapers. I also check the local weather (I did buy a weather app for that purpose). If I want to check something on the Internet, I go to my desktop PC. In the 1.5 years I have had my Sony 950, I have not once made use of its limited browser features and I don’t expect to make any more use of the Nook Tablet’s more powerful browser. But then I do not spend much time surfing the Internet.

    Returning to your original point, I think the problem is that the number of apps are too few for the Nook and that I can’t just go and download and install an Android app. I think B&N needs to spend more time and moeny developing apps and opening up its app system. In that event, users might see the device as more than just an enhanced reader. Until then, its strength is reading.

    • Speaking of the rumored speaker dock, new Linkedin posting up today:

      -Accessories Program Manager

      “Own and manage the end-to-end delivery of tablet accessory products (chargers, AUDIO HEADSETS, MOUNTING SOLUTIONS, data connectivity).”

      “At least 5-10 years of PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT experience in consumer electronics industry”

      -Sounds like you called that one right.

  3. I really enjoy my Nook devices, but I bought the device for reading. I will use it for watching movies and TV shows, but I do so mostly alone and often in bed. I can’t even imagine getting a speaker dock and setting up such a small device as a TV for multiple people to watch.

    I suppose a small tablet could be useful for playing music to a room of people, but I’m already invested into my phone for that purpose.

    I’ve been tempted to buy games on the large touch screen, but, assuming I had, how would a speaker dock enhance that experience?

    I might be missing something, but perhaps the issue is that, in buying from a bookseller, B&N customers know the purpose of their device. Some of the Kindle Fire purchasers were maybe sucked into the tablet hype and are casting around for uses. Which, I suppose, leads back to your point, Nate. If these sales indicate that some Kindle Fire customers are casting out for additional uses, perhaps this group is more inclined to buy applications to justify their purchase, which would lead to more revenue.

  4. Timothy Wilhoit // 18 April, 2012 at 3:53 pm // Reply

    I purchased a KF to view my already-purchased Amazon video content as well as free prime video. I also use it to read…more than I first imagined I would. LCD isn’t too bad for reading although I prefer e-ink. I suppose the games are okay; I’m not much of a gamer. All in all, I’m pleased with the two I purchased.

  5. You really don’t like Barnes and Noble, do you?

  6. I have the Nook Tablet and enjoy it a lot. I do use it primarily as a reader. I listen to Pandora radio in the mornings while I am getting ready in the morning but I do find that the speaker is not very loud. The Kindle Fire’s sounds much better and is louder. I bought Angry Birds Space for it and a game called Carcassonne. Other than that, I have not bought any apps for the Tablet. I wish it had Slacker Radio available because I like it better than Pandora.

    I agree that they make a big deal about the multimedia features of the Tablet without providing any content and that is a big mistake. Overall, the Nook Tablet is a better device when you compare the two but software wise, the Kindle Fire is much better. Except for the native reading App. I hate the Kindle App.

  7. I use my KF for reading magazines (New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair, Science News), surfing the web, reading articles I’ve saved with Instapaper, and playing casual games. Besides the free apps, I’ve bought a few game apps for the KF. But I usually check Amazon’s web site daily just to see what the free app is, and since Amazon has so much more to sell me than B&N does, that’s probably a bigger win for Amazon than it would be for B&N.

  8. So out of interest (and as a Nook Color owner) I have to ask why the NT owners spent the extra cash on the NT instead of the NC? If you are not using the enhanced hardware to consume video/audio media then why pay the extre $50-$100?

    • I own both the Nook Color and the Nook Tablet. The Nook Tablet has a much more responsive touch screen, is faster when browsing the web, and the battery life is better.

      For reading, they are mostly the same since the last update except it’s easier to tap really tiny footnote links and I plug it in to charge less frequently.

      • I gave my Nook Color to my gf. while the reading experience may be close to the same, the Nook Tablet’s web browser blows it away. I found the NC’s browser very slow and sluggish. I do use the internet on mine. I haven’t compared magazines but I am sure that they would run better on the NT too since they require more graphics.

    • Well, to be truthful, if it had been my decision, I would not have bought the Nook at all. I have a Sony 950 that still works perfectly and that I prefer to read ebooks on.

      I received the Nook Tablet as an early birthday gift from my wife. Here is how her reasoning went: I had been talking about possibly “buying” the Nook Touch when it was offered for free with a 1-year subscription to the New York Times. I wanted the Touch not because I needed it but because my Sony 505 is rapidly closing on 5 years of continuous use and I would need to replace it with something for my wife (she took over the 505 once I bought my 950). But I didn’t make the move because she had been resistant to the e version of the Times when I tried it on my 950.

      She decided to take a look at the Touch as a gift but then saw the Nook Color and Tablet. She decided that she could read the Times electronically (we were getting the p version daily) on the color devices and so she decided to get either the Color or the Tablet. She then decided that the TAblet would be the better choice because (a) it was only $50 more ($149 with the Times subscription), (b) had more drive space (and so assumed it would be a better device), and (c) like the idea that it could also handle our email and connect to the Internet.

      c was important because I had also been talking about upgrading our cell phones to smartphones before our vacation. We would be traveling for a few weeks and I needed to stay at least in email touch with clients. Our current cell phones are 7 years old and don’t do email or the Internet. Buying the Tablet meant that I wouldn’t need to sign up for a 2-year commitment to upgrade our cell phones (plus pay for more bandwidth), something that we really didn’t need but occasionally.

      So for me it was the coming together of several factors. My wife never gave a thought to apps or games; she didn’t know about the former and knew I never buy or play video games. She simply decided that $149 was a reasonable price to pay.

  9. Nate, your logic baffles me! How you can come to your conclusions about NT owners see the NT only as an eReader based on the sales of an unattractive product is amazing. It’s entirely possible that Nook Tablet owners don’t find the n-station to be a very appealing product. I don’t. Just because it’s the only one announced doesn’t make me want it either.

    • Depends how many units they have actually sold too. If they sold 30 NT ones and 90 KF ones, then that is not very representative of how many are out there. But if they are selling 30,000 and 90,000 than that would be more likely. I doubt they are selling that much though.

    • I don’t see how that’s relevant. Both docks are the same so they would have similar appeal to either KF or NT owners. Also, the original Nook was rather ugly and look how many of those sold.

  10. I have a Nook Simple Touch, and I love it. It does exactly what I wanted it to do, which is to provide a way for me to read books. Nothing else.

  11. I’m an 18 year old girl who loves reading an I’m debating between a kindle an a nook tablet I’ve played with a nook an I liked it but I like that amazon has kindle books for .99 an does the nook? I will prob buy some apps but
    I have an iPod touch for games so but I’m still thinking so help me pick?!?

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