B&N NookColor Dilemma

This is not good news at all, really: Honeycomb to Require Powerful Processor, Screen: OEM

Google’s new Android Honeycomb tablet OS will require a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor to run properly, said Bobby Cha, managing director of Korean consumer electronics firm Enspert.

That means that many existing Android tablets will not be upgradeable to Honeycomb, as they lack the processor necessary to meet the spec. Currently, Nvidia’s Tegra 2 platform is the only chipset in products on the market to include a Cortex-A9, although other manufacturers have said they’re moving to the new processor architecture for 2011 products.

A 1,280×720 screen resolution may also be necessary, although Cha affirmed that “Honeycomb does not require 10-inch [screens] … it’s going to go as small as 7 inch.”

Even though we’ve yet to get Froyo (2.2) stable on a rooted NookColor, and there’s still Gingerbread (2.3) after that, this additional hardware strength requirement brings up a very interesting dimension to Barnes & Noble’s NookColor.

A NookColor is basically a device for reading books.

Book reading really doesn’t require a fire-breathing processor (right now). ePub files are basically tarted-up text files. There’s no need for massive power just to turn pages, take notes, or do highlighting.

Ah, but Barnes & Noble is going to do a NookColor App Store.

And that means there’s going to come a point where devs won’t be able to port their work to NookColor down the road due to inadequate hardware.

Sure, this could be another year away, but: Barnes & Noble has unknowingly entered an arms race here. People already see the NookColor as an Android tablet. Once owners of the un-rooted NookColor can buy apps, they’ll begin to see it more that way too.

Which puts Barnes & Noble in the somewhat strange position of having to compete outright with other Android tablet manufacturers despite offering something that is targeted for simple reading.

reposted with permission from Mike Cane’s Xblog


  1. Zigwalski4 January, 2011

    Your forgetting that does not mean that no one will write apps for the Nook or that Barnes and Noble themselves wouldn’t have apps developed just for the.

    Most of the Android tablets out there currently as well as the Android phones do not have this kind of power so it seems unlikely that anytime in the near future, there is going to be a drought of apps available.

    The other thing is the BnN are not targeting the Nook Color as a tablet but a reading device. Most of their customers are probably not tech savvy or care.

  2. fjtorres4 January, 2011

    B&N wants people to buy NC’s to buy and read ebooks from them, not to buy and play games or videos. And certainly *not* to run Kindle or Audible apps.
    The main purpose of the B&N appstore will be for them to be able to say they have one and to sell appbooks, more than anything else.

  3. Logan Kennelly4 January, 2011

    Also posted to Mike’s site…

    Remember how Gingerbread was going to require a 1 GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and a large touchscreen? Dan Morrill, the compatibility lead, had an unofficial response of “I love it when people just make stuff up and report it as news”.

    Now, we are hearing the same thing except a super-resolution is necessary. And note the phrase “run properly”, as in, not a requirement but Android can take advantage of it.

    Mike’s claim that Barnes & Noble was caught completely off guard by the fact that technology advances at a fast pace is laughable. In case you didn’t notice, they released two completely different devices within a single year.

    Mike’s comments are meant only to incense, and here I am posting so I guess it worked.

  4. Zigwalski4 January, 2011

    I believe you are right Logan. I looked through Mike’s Blog and his Barnes and Noble rants. Most of what he describes is just business suicide. If you spend millions of dollars developing an e reader (which Barnes and Noble has done twice), they sure entitled to try to make as much money off of that device as possible.

  5. yuzutea5 January, 2011

    Do people really currently see the Nook Color as an Android tablet? I would question that. Perhaps in the tech blog world and the ebook enthusiast world they do, but it’s more marketed as an ereader device in stores like Best Buy, and the app library is so obviously lacking, it doesn’t seem like much of a selling point.

    I think Nook Color’s real problem is less that customers misunderstand its function than that 7″ tablets will fall in price. Besides price, there doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason to choose a Nook Color over a 7″ tablet with similar specs, since e-reader apps exist for tablets. Whereas with an e-ink reader, there are compelling non-price differentiators, such as the screen, weight, and battery life.

  6. Cabbage5 January, 2011

    Nook Color is the best LCD reader I have ever owned.

    P.S. This blog is owned by an iPad fan.

    1. Nate the great5 January, 2011

      No, I’m not an iPad fan.

      1. Cabbage8 January, 2011


    2. monopole9 January, 2011

      The nook color not only has an excellent LCD but a splendid screen. It’s half the cost of the competition and is an excellent android tablet.

      More importantly it’s small and light with a good battery life.

      If honeycomb has the hardware demands cited it’s insane. Huge hardware requirements mean horrible battery life, cost, weight, boot time and size. Tablets headed in that direction will be heavier than full laptops shortly.

      The whole point of a tablet is to have something light and cheap to consume media, Books, manga/comics and video, and surf the web. My $200 Telepad 10.1″is a fine example of this. It’s feather light, runs perfect viewer, aldiko, and plays 1080p video without a skip. I use to read at home. My nook has the same function on the go. I can read and watch on the go and always have a huge library at reach.

      I’m always astounded by the “rolex” mentality driven by the iPad. I don’t need a “rolex” tablet i need a “Casio G-Shock” tablet as well as a few cheap “Timex” tablets.


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