Thursday, August 28, 2014

What on Earth were they thinking or were they thinking?

For those that don't already know, some years ago, Barnes and Noble brought out their appalling Nook eReader. The original was so appalling that it sold solely to the kind of people that wanted to have the latest gadget. The poor suckers that bought those lemons must surely be regretting it now.

The Nook 1st edition was black and white with no backlight. Instead, a ridiculous clip-on reading light was sold to go with it. The whole thing was a ludicrous milking exercise where people would enter the store thinking they were going to leave with a functional eReader for $270 that would allow them to download their books via a 3G connection. By the time the salesmen had finished working on them, the poor souls had spent $270 on their Nook 1st edition, $50 on a cover, $20 on a protective film to fit over the screen, $50 on a warranty and $20 on a light. That's a total of $410 on an eReader that was sluggish to say the best.

In a vain attempt to please the masses, a web browser and some games were added to the Nook. The web browser was described by one and all as worthless though the games were better designed for it. Huge numbers of the first edition were returned because the screen flickered, because the 3G or wifi didn't actually work and because they just locked up totally.

Having survived a disastrous start in eReaders, Barnes & Noble (who one individual described as pretentious on the basis that a non-technology company thought it could compete with the technology big-boys) followed up with a color Nook. That too was appalling - in a room with the slightest humidity, the device would go bananas with automatic page flipping or going dead to the touch on its touch screen. The work around was to sell the suckers that bought it, a protective screen at $20 that should have been given away free as a fix for the problems of the device.

After their debacle with their first two eReaders, more eReaders were forthcoming including a huge 10 inch color device that was competing with the Apple iPad on quality and failing and with the cheap 10 inch devices from Walmart and failing.

Seriously - with a tablet there are two ways to go; either buy the best that money can buy which will be either an iPad 10 inch or a Nexus 10 inch or get the cheapest that money can buy and put up with the flaws. With constant updates, the cheaper tablets will become as sluggish as the cheapest fairly quickly while the top of the range models will keep on going for far longer.

Recently, Barnes & Noble gave up their pretence that they were a technology company, having spent hundreds of millions of dollars on what was essentially re-inventing the wheel. Books A Million and Borders both got technology right - off the bat. Books A Million just sold somebody else's eReader, knowing full well that they were selling devices and not content. Borders simply rebadged Kobe's eReader.

While a great many people will buy their books on a B&N Nook device, most will get them elsewhere. Searching online finds a lot of books available in both PDF and ePub formats. As has been seen on this blog, eBooks are reviewed. These are reviewed from PDFs and ePubs that are free downloads. The company is essentially selling a tablet but not eBooks.

Now it appears B&N has almost (but not entirely) seen the light. The B&N Nook color tablet is now a Samsung Galaxy Tab (which gets dire reviews). B&N still makes its appalling b/w eReader.

What Barnes & Noble should have done was - instead of pretending to be a technology company and going in all macho to tussle with companies that have been doing technology for decades - to simply rebadge somebody else's eReader. In fact, B&N should have worked out a deal with Apple to rebadge the big iPad. The screens on the itsy-bitsy little 7 inch models is just too small. The screens on the 5 inch B/W models is just laughable. Try reading a PDF!

Right at the beginning, when the B&N development people came out with the Nook 1st edition, the Project Manager should have looked at the creation, asked if the developer was joking and hurled the thing at the wall. The Nook first edition was terrible and set the precedent for the whole range. In a final bit of good sense, the Nook is now a rebadged device built and developed by a technology company. It's way too late to save the brand and probably too late to save Barnes & Noble.

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