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Summary:

Barnes & Noble has picked up the pace to turn its Nook Color device into a full-fledged Android tablet on the cheap. The $249 e-reader will soon see an updated version of Android and the company is now accepting third-party applications for its software store.

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Barnes & Noble is now accepting Android application submissions for its Nook Color e-reader, continuing the device’s march towards becoming a full-fledged, low-cost tablet. Developers can submit their Android applications with no cost to do so and the promise of a 70 percent revenue share from any software sold. Don’t expect any “banned book apps” though: the application catalog will be curated based on content.

In an email statement I received Thursday morning, a B&N spokesperson said this:

[The] app review/acceptance process that will follow the company’s content acceptance policies as with books to ensure the content is appropriate for the Barnes & Noble customer.

From the sounds of it, if there’s something offensive enough to warrant banning an e-book title in an app, that same aspect would keep the app out of the Nook software market, although the policy is a bit murky. Suffice it to say that an app-store-gone-wild won’t be a fitting descriptor for the Nook’s software marketplace. Considering what’s resulted from the “anything goes” policy in place in the Android Market, allowing for malicious apps and a large number of poor titles, this is welcome news.

In addition to opening up the application subsmission process, the company is also introducing:

  • Access to “Developer Mode” services, which will enable adb (Android Debugging Bridge) access on NOOK Color to facilitate application development and debugging
  • Public and private interaction with other developers and NOOK App Developer technical experts
  • Early access to development tools, APIs, resources and services

It seems as though Barnes & Noble is trying to get the Nook Color into the tablet market before Amazon makes its own push into the media tablet space, in hopes of wooing developers to fill up its curated app store. This may have been the plan all along, but the company’s actions are likely influenced by the number of Android enthusiasts that have rooted the inexpensive tablet in order to install their own applications.

It’s unlikely that Barnes & Noble has any official stats for how many users have rooted its color e-reading device, but NookDevs.com, just one the websites that tells users how root the Nook Color has seen 452,662 visits as of this morning. While the hardware specifications of a rooted Nook Color aren’t up to snuff as compared to currently available 7-inch tablets, the performance may be good enough for most; especially when the tradeoff is the low-price of $249.

Last year, my colleague Darrell noted this, going so far in saying that the e-reader could sway some from an iPad due to the feature set for its price. In fact, the Nook Color was on sale for $199 a few weeks ago and even though I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab in the same size, I was sorely tempted to pick up the Barnes & Noble device. Once the company releases its mid-Spring software update, likely due out within weeks, and adds some apps to its store, I just may take another look.

  1. These sites keep on saying that the nook color isn’t “up to snuff” with competitors such as the ipad. That is wrong, just take a look at the hardware specs. Seriously.

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    1. Robert, I was thinking more about my 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is a truer comparison: the Tab offers more in terms of hardware than the Nook. Not saying the Nook isn’t worth the money, but wanted to clarify where I was coming from. Thx!

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  2. NC performance will vary on how you root and mod. The real cost/benefit benchmark in my view will be the comparison with the SGT Wifi version. Is it worth paying out $100 more for a camera and some hard buttons?
    My Nook Color runs Cyanogenmod 7 great. What’s the gain for the added price of an SGT?
    Incidentally I use the NC with an Htc Desire. Tether it for 3G here in UK. The partnership of the two devices makes a lot of sense and saves a bunch.

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  3. I have a nook color that I tether to my Nexus one for data access. With a simple mod that is widely available on the internet you can unlock the device to be a full android tablet with Android market support in less than 3 minutes. I find my primary use case for the device is the e-reading, even with all the Android apps, I normally only run Angry Birds or Pulse in addition to all the amazing Barnes and Noble E-Reader content.

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