Barnes & Noble is sending out invites today for a press event in two weeks. They haven't revealed any specific details about the topic, but the invite, which you can find here, drops enough hints to let us know that we're finally going to see the next Nook hardware.
The retailer had announced in June that the next Nook device would be made by Samsung, but did not share any details about price, specs, or the release date, which was tentatively set for early August.
Based on information released in the Nook Developer section of the B&N website, I can now confirm that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, as B&N is calling it, is indeed the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It sports a 7" screen, and according to the specs shared by B&N it will be running Android 4.4 on a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU with 1.5GB RAM, and 8GB or 16GB internal storage. B&N also says that there will be a microSD card slot, a pair of cameras (1.3MP and 3MP), a 4Ah battery, Wifi, and Bluetooth.
And most importantly, the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook will have a screen resolution of 1280 x 800, fewer pixels than on the Nook HD.
Those are pretty much the same details as the specs for Samsung's version of the tablet, and in fact B&N also links to a set of publicly available Galaxy Tab 4 specs as confirmation. But to be nitpicky, until I found that page on the B&N website no one knew for sure whether the specs would be the same.
The new Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is most likely going to ship in the days immediately after the launch; I would not be terribly surprised if it was available on the 20th.
B&N is set to also release a 10" Nook later this year; according to the SEC filing on the Samsung-B&N contract, the larger tablet is going to be a rebranded Galaxy Tab 10.1. It is scheduled to ship 60 days after the launch of the 7" model.
B&N is under contract to buy a million tablets from Samsung before the end of 2014. I'm not convinced that they will pull it off, but that really depends on the market. For example, if Amazon doesn't release an updated 7" Kindle Fire tablet later this year then B&N will have less competition for the new sales.
All we know at this time is that Amazon has a slightly revised 8.9" Kindle Fire tablet in the works; leaked benchmarks have revealed that in terms of hardware it will be a minor improvement on last year's model. We don't currently have any details on any new 7" model, and that could be to B&N's advantage.
On the other hand, if the tablet market really is stalling, like Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly says, then B&N will have their work cut out for them:
You said the tablet had “crashed.” Do you believe it’s going away?
Yeah, “crashed” is a strong word. So, the tablets have been an unbelievable phenomenon. I don’t think there’s a category that ever took off so quickly and so big in the history of tech.
The issue has then been that, once you have a tablet of a certain generation, it’s not clear that you have to move on to the next generation.
As a consumer?
As a consumer. I think replacement is the issue. The penetration has gone so fast that it’s reaching an amazing degree and therefore it becomes more of a replacement market, and the level of innovation in the past year has not been as great as it had been in the previous two years. So, there again, the jury’s out in terms of what’s going to happen, because it’s going to depend on what innovation comes to market. But you need a reason to replace.
I know that many are focusing on the word crash, but I would suggest you ignore that word and simply consider what he said about the market. The thing is, I am seeing the same trends and I'm not sure he's wrong.
I am looking at new devices launched this year and I'm not seeing any major improvements over the models launched last year. That strikes me as a good reason for anyone with a year old tablet to continue to use it instead of upgrading to a new model, or if they buy a new one to instead get a device released last year when it goes on clearance.
For example, as Juli reminded me in the comments the new Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is going to have to compete with the Nook HD, a two year old tablet which has a higher resolution screen, adequate performance, and is a lot cheaper. Refurbs can be had for under $80, leading me to wonder why anyone would pay more for B&N branded hardware. (Thanks, Juli!)
And if no one is upgrading, B&N is on the hook for a million tablets which they might not be able to sell.