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Barnes & Noble tablets get maps before Kindle Fire

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Amazon (s AMZN) may have bought mapping startup UpNext earlier this month, but Barnes & Noble (s BKS) tablets are getting maps first. Rather than going with Google (s GOOG) Maps on its Android-based devices, though, B&N is partnering with Berlin-based mobile company skobbler to add navigation services to its Nook Color and Nook Tablets.

Starting today, skobbler’s ForeverMap 2 app is available in the Nook app store. A basic version is free and a premium version, with downloadable maps for offline use, is $4.99. Barnes & Noble is also opening the Nook platform up to location-based app developers later this year.

Barnes & Noble tablets don’t have GPS or 3G, so ForeverMap relies on WiFi positioning.

Despite Amazon’s acquisition of UpNext, Kindle Fire users don’t have their own map app yet. They can download third-party Android apps or access services like Google Maps through the browser.

B&N’s partnership with skobbler “signals a brand new opportunity for Nook app developers to create location-aware apps, products and services that help our millions of Nook Tablet and Nook Color customers experience and navigate their physical surroundings in unique and innovative ways,” Claudia Romanini, B&N’s director of developer relations, said in a statement. “We’re excited about the potential here.”

Microsoft (s MSFT) invested $300 million in Nook and B&N’s college business earlier this year.