I guess this had to happen.
In the beginning, Amazon had a simple eReader, the Kindle. Then the iPad entered the market wanting to be many things, including an eReader. Barnes & Noble followed that up with its own eReader, the Nook. Somewhere in between Samsung and Google and everyone else released their own tablets – all based on Google’s Android system. And then, over the last year or two, both eReaders morphed into Tablets, underpinned by Google’s Android system. Then, Amazon upped the ante by bundling its Kindle tablet with unlimited video streaming (limited though to Amazon’s own online video library). Had enough? No?
Allrighty then. The latest salvo in the Tablet ecosystem wars is the announcement today that Barnes & Noble is developing its own online video library that its Nook tablets (and users of the Nook app on non-Nook devices) will be able to buy and stream. This streaming service is expected to launch this fall in the U.S. and the U.K. and will initially offer content from some of the premier content providers such as HBO, Disney et al.
On the face of it, the new service seems to include three different things – which make it somewhat Netflix-like (actually, strike that! The press release was vague here, but an article on All Things D states that there is NO subscription video streaming a la Netflix), somewhat Amazon-like and somewhat iTunes-like:
a) “In demand” content licensed from major studios:
Content Licensed From Major Studios Including HBO®, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, STARZ, The Walt Disney Studios, Viacom and Warner Bros. Entertainment..
b) The ability to shop and buy, download and store TV shows and movies in a Nook cloud-based “locker”
c) The ability to shop for physical DVDs (and Blu-Ray DVDs) that are “Ultra Violet” branded so that customers have access to the physical disc and an online version of the associated movie in the Nook cloud.
Its also interesting that customers need not be using an actual Nook device to get (a), (b) and (c)- instead they can do all of this using a Nook app.
But this doesn’t fundamentally change the game in any way.
If anything, this allows the Nook to catch up with the Kindle because the Kindle already allows customers to buy shows and movies and store them in Amazon’s cloud. But the Nook user is still at a disadvantage compared to the Kindle user because the latter can access Amazon’s growing online video library for free, for now. And then, I am not sure how many customers will choose the Nook because of its Ultra Violet feature (not many, me thinks). [Perhaps Nook tablet users will somehow be bestowed with free access to Netflix to level the playing field (that, would be a coup for Nook and should make for some great optics).] The only tangible upside to Barnes & Noble is that Nook users that formerly spent money buying TV shows and movies on a Kindle or Vudu app will now instead do that in a curated Nook store allowing some revenue to captured by B&N.
Not much else.
So the Tablet ecosystem wars can be fully expected to continue for a while.