Barnes & Noble's Nook HD+ tablet now has the Google Play store. (Barnes & Noble)
By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern) May 3, 2013
Similar to Amazon's Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble's Nook HD and HD+ tablets have always stood in their own silo. While they run Google's Android operating system, they haven't had Google's own Play Store and other Google apps, like YouTube and Gmail.
That's now about to change. Today Barnes & Noble announced that its Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets will be getting Google's own app store and its full suite of apps. A wireless update for the tablet will give owners access to the 700,000 apps in the Google Play store plus the thousands of movies, magazines and books in the store. Other Google apps like Gmail, YouTube and the Chrome browser will also come along with it. New Nook tablets will come with the store and those Google apps preloaded.
So why is the book company adding Google's store? The company says that it recognized that people wanted more apps and content. "We have always had an app experience and a curated app experience -- curation is something we have been really good at. But we recognize there are a large number of customers who buy multi function tablets who want access to the whole library of apps," Barnes & Noble VP Jim Hilt told ABC News.
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Typically Google requires official Android devices with the full app store to preload Google's own suite of apps, including Gmail, YouTube, Google Play Music and Chrome. As such, Barnes & Noble had to remove some of its own apps to gain access, including its own music app. Hilt wouldn't comment on the terms of partnership when asked. Barnes & Noble's Nook Store, which has millions of books and magazines, will still come preloaded on the tablets.
The Nook HD, which has a high-resolution 7-inch screen and weighs 11.1 ounces, costs $199. The Nook HD+ has a higher resolution 1080p screen and starts at $269. Amazon's Kindle Fire HD costs $199 and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 starts at $269.
However, while competitively priced and nice pieces of hardware, Barnes & Noble has said that sales of its tablets have been disappointing. In February, after announce its holiday period earnings, the company said it fell short of hitting sales targets of the two Nook devices.
"Despite generating very strong reviews and the highest preorder volume we received on any Nook launch to date, sales of those products didn't materialize at the rate we expected through holiday, as heavy competition in the tablet market negatively impacted our sell-through," William Lynch, Barnes & Noble CEO, said during the earnings call.
The Google Play store will be available starting today on the Nook tablets.