Leave it to the New York Times to stuff a zinger like this in a three-page piece on the future of the publishing industry; it looks like Barnes & Noble is set to announce a new Nook device come this Spring. This will be B&N's fifth Nook device, following the Nook Tablet.
From the New York Times:
Barnes & Noble is trying to strike at Amazon with another device. At its labs in Silicon Valley last week, engineers were putting final touches on their fifth e-reading device, a product that executives said would be released sometime this spring. (A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman declined to elaborate.)
The million dollar question is what, exactly, Barnes & Noble is cooking up. Historically, the full-color Nooks have been announced and released in the fall, smack dab in the middle of the holiday buying season. Both of the e-ink versions were released in June with announcements made in late Spring. If history repeats itself, we may be looking at a follow-up to the Nook Simple Touch.
On the other hand, the e-ink category isn't really conducive to innovation. E-ink readers are designed for simplicity, so adding new features doesn't add too much value. Web browsers, for example, are difficult to use for anything but basic reading on e-ink screens.
Meanwhile, the Nook Tablet is facing some fresh competition from the Kindle Fire. The Nook Tablet has done remarkably well, however, with sales numbers in the millions since its release in November. However, Amazon is brand new to the color tablet game, and at a $50 discount over the comparable Nook Tablet, B&N should be keeping a wary eye on the Fire. An update to the color tablet family might not go amiss, if executed properly.
Then again, perhaps the fifth device will be something new entirely. We are talking about the company that built a dual-screen device with both e-ink and color touchscreen displays. Perhaps B&N will come up with yet another new category.
Further still, the yet-to-be-unveiled Nook device may just be a spec boost to the Nook Simple Touch. No one knows, aside from that Barnes & Noble spokeswoman, but she's not saying.