Is This the iPad Killer?

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I don't think that even the mighty Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) saw this coming.

Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) introduced its NOOKcolor yesterday. The device is a break from the color-less e-readers on the market, where keyboards take up a good chunk of the viewing space.

NOOKcolor is really an e-reader trapped in the body of a tablet. B&N's new gadget is a 7-inch touchscreen tablet that just happens to devour e-books. More than just digital books and magazines, it helps children's picture books come to life with rich graphics and interactive features. Owners can peck out Sudoku and crossword puzzles. NOOKcolor also features Wi-Fi connectivity, so streaming Pandora or hitting up websites is as simple as firing up the built-in browser.

The biggest reason for Apple to worry is that NOOKcolor is priced at $249, half of the ransom commanded by its entry-level iPad.

Steve Jobs ripped into the trend of 7-inch tablets last week, but that was a knock primarily intended for Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) PlayBook and Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) Zeen, and a horde of Android tablets that will pale in size to the iPad's 9.7-inch screen. Those devices are unlikely to hit the market at $249, unless they're tethered to wireless contracts that will bleed owners dry over the next two years.

B&N has a real shot here, but it needs to overcome its debt challenges. NOOKcolor also has to come out on time and deliver as promised.

The bookstore giant expects to begin shipping the NOOKcolor come Nov. 19, but we've seen this before. Delays plagued holiday shoppers during last year's debut of the original Nook. Will history repeat itself?

There's also the possibility of buyer confusion. A year ago, there was only one Nook. Now there will be the $149 Wi-Fi Nook, the $199 Wi-Fi Nook with 3G access, and the $249 NOOKcolor.

Will the high-end rollout scare away potential buyers of the original Nook models, fearing that they are obsolete? (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) and Borders (NYSE: BGP  ) have e-readers that are competitively priced against the original Nook models. If B&N sends a mixed marketing message, it may wind up losing battles at both ends of the market.

Still, one has to applaud B&N for raising the bar on e-readers -- or lowering the limbo stick on tablet pricing -- with the NOOKcolor.

The holidays just got a little more interesting.

Does the NOOKcolor stand a chance? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Apple and are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.  

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a Kindle owner since 2008 and an iPad owner since April. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (17) | Recommend This Article (14)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 1:51 PM, barilro wrote:

    It has been very popular for authors to title their article "the iphone killer" and now "the ipad killer". When GM launches a new car, do they call it a "Toyota Killer" as if their is only room for one manufacturer on the market place? Like most businesses, their will be several manufacturers in the market place 5 years from now. It might be that ipad is number one but their will certainly be a number 2 and a number 3 which can do quite well from a financial point of view.

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 1:54 PM, tiredofreports wrote:

    Tired of junk reports claiming this or that as an Iphone or Ipad killer. I am sure everyone can say you can't kill anything apple develops first and is widely accepted. Please stop these articles just so the reporter gets attention and trying to lower the stock so they can buy it at a low. Just lame bad reporting.

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 2:10 PM, applebull wrote:

    The IPad is a computer and runs thousands of applications as well as a book reader. Can you store photos on Nook? Run Videos? Send and receive Emails? Use an excel Spreadsheet or a Word Document? You get what you pay for. the Apple IPad with 3G is a genuine Bargain!

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 2:39 PM, xmmj wrote:

    It may well turn out to be successful, but not an iPad killer. As mentioned in your article and in comments above - you get a lot more with an iPad both in functionality and screen real estate (7" diagonal screen is about 1/2 the size of 10")

    Still, for those who are happy with a light weight reader, this sounds pretty nice.

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 2:40 PM, xmmj wrote:

    It will certainly pressure the Kindle.

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 2:58 PM, mikecart1 wrote:

    The iPhone killer is coming from Sony. Apple is going down. It's not 'if' but 'when'! muahhahah!

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 3:07 PM, foolindeed1 wrote:

    If fact, according to published specs, you can play videos (MP4), work on a Word document and browse the web on the new Nook Color. They also opened up a Nook Developer SDK for aps to be developed for it.

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 3:23 PM, foolindeed1 wrote:

    Supported File Types

    Load these popular formats for eBooks, graphics, audio, and other file types from your computer or microSD card.

    EPUB (including Non or Adobe DRM)



    Graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP

    Audio: MP3, AAC

    Video: MP4

    Not Supported: LIT, AMZ (Amazon), LRZ/LRX (Sony)

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 3:59 PM, sk8ertor wrote:

    I will be buying the PlayBook when it comes out. Anyone who even thinks of buying another Apple product is a fool. They trick their customers by selling them garbage only to make them upgrade later on. I'm sick of Apple.

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2010, at 4:27 PM, Emperor2 wrote:

    I wonder if sk8ertor really thinks anyone cares that he's an Apple Hate Boy?

  • Report this Comment On October 28, 2010, at 12:22 AM, xmmj wrote:

    @MillerFalls Man

    Care to place a bet? If you are so sure, what odds will you give me?


  • Report this Comment On October 28, 2010, at 12:26 AM, xmmj wrote:

    @ sk8erator

    "They trick their customers by selling them garbage"

    LOL - that is why Apple products have the highest user satisfaction rating in the whole industry?

    So what you are saying is... "50 Million people are all stupid idiots - but YOU know the truth!"

    Does somebody pay you to write this stuff? I really can't believe that any sane person would write what you do.


  • Report this Comment On October 28, 2010, at 7:35 PM, foolindeed1 wrote:

    The Nook Color won’t run apps straight out of the Android Market, but that doesn’t mean it can’t run them – in fact, they’ve done a lot of tests on apps from standard Android smartphones and they “pretty much run on Nook colour”, which has Android 2.1 under the hood. (The Nook’s native interface and apps are just standard Android application layers.) Barnes & Noble’s special Nook SDK runs on top of the standard Android one and gives developers access to exclusive extensions and APIs for the Nook and its interface. So porting Android apps isn’t difficult. B&N says it’s more like “optimising” them for Nook than porting them.

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2010, at 8:43 AM, TMFZahrim wrote:

    Donuts. Is there anything they can't do?

    -- Homer, ``Marge vs. the Monorail''

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2010, at 9:37 AM, FlorisHJ wrote:


    >> I honestly cannot think of anything the iPad cannot do

    I am a happy iPad user (writing this on iPad) but there is one important thing it can't do - play Flash content. Anyone who uses Bloomberg for financial news will run into this problem time and again (their videos are Flash based).

    However I also have a Blackberry Storm and I can say unequivocally that it is the most useless device I own - after many software "upgrades" I still can't wait to get rid of it. If that is an example of RIMM engineering (attempted iPhone killer), I really never want another "Apple killer" from them. Fool me once...

  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2010, at 9:15 PM, tyzack100 wrote:

    @InfoThatHelps.... I think you know what you are talking about.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2010, at 4:10 AM, TaigaTaiga wrote:

    Apple devices don't even have to work-there is a cult following for them such that if the next Apple device was a glass sculpture with Christmas lights in it, they would sell at least one to each Apple fan. Even so, they are willing to pioneer these things, and they have a certain mindshare that makes their failures palatable to their users. Not sure their stock value justifies it, and the market share is elsewhere. If I could figure out a way to charge a nickel for every fanboy flamewar post, though, that would be a stock worth having.

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