Google PlayAll right! Barnes & Noble has finally listened to its customer base, and the tech bloggers. They recently announced that they’ll be rolling out a software update that adds the Google Play Store to the Nook HD and HD+ tablets.

This is excellent news. The Nook HD tablets have consistently received great hardware reviews, but the Nook App Store lags so far behind other app stores that there’s no point in drawing comparisons. Good hardware plus crappy app selection does not equal a winning combination.

I confess to being surprised by the news. While it’s what I’ve been writing about for a while now—encouraging them to open up their tablet line, that is—I didn’t really think they’d do it.

From what I’ve read, Nook apps will be distinguished by a small “n” in the corner of the app, while Google Play apps will have no distinction. Nook HD owners will also be able to buy movies, music and e-books from the Google Play Store, although non-Nook content won’t be accessible from native Nook apps. You’ll have to download third-party apps to play Google Play content. Considering the number of excellent third-party video and music players, that’s not a hardship.

And for those of you who are wondering, yes, you’ll be able to install the Kindle and Kobo apps on your Nook HD tablet.

Obviously, this is a good thing for consumers. But what about for Barnes & Noble? Will customers continue buying Nook apps and Nook books? I think they will.

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Google PlayI used to own a Nook Color. I really liked the stock reader, and I would have bought books from Barnes & Noble, even if I could have used the Kindle app without jumping through dual-boot-from-card hoops.

The average user doesn’t care about price shopping for e-books, especially since price parity among the various stores is still the norm. Consumers will buy where it’s easy, and the easiest way to buy new books will continue to be directly from the Nook. My hunch is that the typical Nook HD user will buy a few games or “must-have” apps from Google Play, but will still consume most of their content from Barnes & Noble.

Personally, this may not be good news for me. I’ve long admired the Nook HD tablet line. What stopped me from buying? The horrible Nook app selection. Now that I don’t have that excuse, gadget envy can take root. I love my Nexus 7, but we’ll see how long I can hold out!

Has anyone updated their Nook HD yet? If so, please let us know about your experiences by leaving a comment.


  1. I updated my Nook HD+ yesterday through the systems menu. No problems with the download, system upgrade etc., Although I also have a Nexus 7, I had previously thought the Nook reader to be the best reading platform. I hope B&N continues with the Nook because it really is a great device and now with the ability to buy outside of the B&N universe, it’s the Nexus 7 that is now on my endangered list. (Although also a very fine product.)

  2. @Rob, no it doesn’t work with the Color or the Nook Tablet. just the HD line.

    @fbr, I didn’t last very long in the holding out area and picked up a Nook HD yesterday. I still think my Nexus 7 is going to be my workhorse device, but I really like the HD. I’m working on a couple of articles reviewing the HD and comparing the two.

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