James Fallows has a detailed comparison of the Nook and Kindle. Clearly by using ePub, Barnes is challenging Amazon’s (AMZN) proprietary vertically integrated content distribution system. One interesting angle mentioned by Fallows is that Google (GOOG) books is making its existing online (out of copyright) books available in ePub format, thus increasing the content available for Nook. (For now, Kindle owners have to convert the book to Kindle’s proprietary mobi format, presumably because Amazon doesn’t want other formats on its device.)
The Nook is based on the Android 1.5 platform and thus will run Android apps. B&N is mealy-mouth on whether they’ll provide an SDK. (First they need to enable the Android WebKit browser.)
Still, the Nook is a very high profile (and probably the highest volume) example to date of what my friend Bill Weinberg calls “Android Beyond Mobile.” By solving some of the UI/SDK problems of embedded Linux — without adding a lot of proprietary royalty-bearing layers on top of it — Android will be an attractive platform for many different single-purpose mobile devices.
Who knows, maybe there will even be GPS navigation devices based on Android. TomTom (OTCPK:TMOAF) and Garmin (GRMN) shares plummeted last week when Google announced free turn-by-turn navigation services in Android 2.0, suggesting an opportunity for a disruptive market entry by rivals to make Android-based car devices without having to incur the TomTom/Garmin R&D costs.
Of course, there’s no reason Android’s ambitions are limited to mobile. Settop boxes anyone? Competitors to Media Center and AppleTV (AAPL)?
Hat tip to TeleRead, a very good blog on e-books.