B&N has rolled out a new update today that brings Google Play and other Google apps to the Nook HD and Nook HD+. These media devices can now legitimately be called Android tablets.
The updates will be pushed out to the tablets over the next few weeks. If you don't want to wait, you can download the updates from the B&N website:
I have installed it and from what I can tell B&N is only adding apps; the fundamental Nook platform will not change. My Nook HD+ still has support for multiple user profiles, Nook Video, and other features.
But in terms of new stuff, I can see apps for Gmail, Chrome, Google Talk, Youtube, and Google Play Books.
Yes, B&N's tablets will now ship with a competitor's reading app. That is probably an unpleasant pill for B&N to swallow but I suspect that Google made it a requirement for getting Google Play on the Nook hardware.
So do you think this will be enough to rescue the Nook platform?
It could be enough, I think.
Remember, the problem with the Nook wasn't the quality of the hardware; the Nook HD and Nook HD+ are 7" and 9" tablets with excellent hardware and decent prices ($199 and $269, respectively). No, the biggest gripe I had was that B&N limited what you could do with a Nook tablet. That was why I returned my Nook Tablet in 2011, and it was a problem shared by the Nook HD and Nook HD+.
And I wasn't the only one to be chafed by the limitations. B&N's restrictions were also the reason that the various "Android on SD cards" did such a brisk business. I mean, Nook tablet owners were paying $30 or more just to escape B&N's restrictions. If that doesn't show that there was a problem then I don't know what does.
Update: I've just learned that the Nook HD+ still blocks me from sideloading apps. That is a poor decision on the part of B&N and it will to keep the Nook hardware less useful than the competition.