Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet: Not quite as open as we thought

Spider

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By James Kendrick | November 17, 2011, 4:25am PST
Summary: Amazon and Barnes & Noble want you to buy only their content on the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet respectively, and new owners are finding out the companies are serious about that.



Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble made it clear at the respective launch events for the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet that the two tablets were aimed at selling you content. While the tech-savvy crowd quickly determined that as tablets they could be used for content from outside sources, the reality is just settling in that outside content may not be as welcome as first thought.
Before the two tablets were in owners’ hands, I reported that I didn’t think either company would want their tablet to be open for general usage. Whether they would lock them down to prevent hacking, or require you to buy content only from the provider I wasn’t sure. It turns out they are using everything at their disposal to lock buyers into content purchased from the respective company.
B&N made a big deal about the internal memory on the Nook Tablet being twice as much as that on the Kindle Fire (16GB vs. 8GB). Then yesterday the real story came out that the 16GB of memory on the Nook Tablet is restricted. As ZDNet’s Rachel King confirmed with Barnes & Noble, only 12GB is open for user content. More significantely 11GB of that storage is only available to content purchased from B&N. That’s a drastic hardware measure for a tablet, and only leaves 1GB of storage for content from other sources out of the box.
It’s true that the Nook Tablet has a microSD slot for additional user storage, but a storage card will cost another $20 - 40. That takes the cost of a Nook Tablet with more than a gig of memory up towards the $300 mark. Not quite as cheap as we thought.
While the Nook Color has been open to hacking since its release, one looking to do the same with the Nook Tablet has discovered that Barnes & Noble has apparently used a locked bootloader. This means the tablet will not be very easy to hack, and particularly difficult to install custom ROMs. This is a complete difference in philosophy with the Nook Tablet over the Nook Color, and is likely to protect the content sales the company needs to make.

The Kindle Fire only has 8GB of internal storage, with no slot for expansion. Owners have indicated that 6GB of that storage is available to the user out of the box, which is less than many smartphones being sold today. Amazon has lots of streaming content available for purchase which alleviates the need for a lot of storage. That’s Amazon’s plan, to lock you into buying streaming content from them with little onboard storage.
Not surprisingly, Amazon has the Kindle app preinstalled for buying and reading ebooks. Kindle Fire buyers wanting to use competing apps and ebookstores will notice they are available in the Amazon Appstore but not visible on the Fire. You can see them in the Amazon Appstore on desktop browsers, but not on the Fire. Savvy owners will find a way to get these competing apps on the Kindle Fire, but mainstream consumers will likely only use what they can see on the Fire. Amazon is basically letting competing apps in the Appstore on the Kindle Fire, but hiding them from view from these casual owners. Not quite as open as it appears.
Both companies have positioned their tablets to sell you content, and the memory situation pushes owners to do that very thing. While buyers may have visions of getting content from other sources, as indicated that may not be easy to do. For many customers it will just be easier to buy content from the tablet provider and be done with it, and that is the plan. Given the approach the companies have taken so far, it leads me to wonder what they will do when the expected hacking begins in earnest.
Image credit: Flickr user lavocado@sbcglobal.net
 

tonyp

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Nov 1, 2011
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What do you think Spider? For the Android hacking crowd is it as bad as it sounds for the Tablet?
 
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J515OP

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Guys don't worry about it these are headline grabbing articles that are three steps behind. Following progress on XDA reveals that both the Fire and NT are fairly open. In only a couple of days both devices are already running more than they did out of the box. Give the devs a week and these thing will be completely open. One example is that the streaming media app from the Fire is running on the NT meaning that Amazon Prime members can stream their Amazon movies on the NT just as they can on the Fire. Ironically the Android Market is working on the Fire and the Amazon App Store is working on the NT (but not the Android Market).

Still lots of work to be done but not every article that comes out is accurate, especially when things are moving so quickly. Wait a month and all this speculation will look silly in retrospect.

:D JP
 

J515OP

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The headline is literally taken from the first post in one of the first threads about the NT. From one of the last posts in the same thread:

Entropy512 said:
Hmm, after looking at the OMAP4430 TRM (Any better links than Nishanth' tech rambles: Public OMAP4 TRM released ? - I'll look tonight, I don't remember ever seeing that on TI's site directly), things may not be as bad as they seem.

In section 27.4.8.2, it looks like there are a lot of reasons for requiring a CH other than code signing.

So this may not be a case of "No signed code? GTFO!" but more of "I am stupid, please hold my hand!" - e.g. we need a valid CH with clock/memory/etc settings.

This might be extractable from wherever the device initially boots from...

Don't give up on the second day and before the official release date!
 

photoweborama

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Nov 7, 2011
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My son is looking at the K. Fire.
I think he will be ok with how it comes out of the box, but I know that will last only so long.

As long as you guys are here to guide me through this jungle, I'll be OK!
 

NateTheGreat

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Jun 29, 2011
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Guys don't worry about it these are headline grabbing articles that are three steps behind. Following progress on XDA reveals that both the Fire and NT are fairly open. In only a couple of days both devices are already running more than they did out of the box. Give the devs a week and these thing will be completely open. One example is that the streaming media app from the Fire is running on the NT meaning that Amazon Prime members can stream their Amazon movies on the NT just as they can on the Fire. Ironically the Android Market is working on the Fire and the Amazon App Store is working on the NT (but not the Android Market).

Still lots of work to be done but not every article that comes out is accurate, especially when things are moving so quickly. Wait a month and all this speculation will look silly in retrospect.

:D JP

My post might be 3 or 4 steps behind now, but it was current when I posted it. (I'm The Digital Reader) And I've also posted other stuff including a post about installing apps on the Nook Tablet.
 

spdsl

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Mar 22, 2011
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B&N should realize that their success in Nook sales is do to the openness of the hardware, not necessarily the content they provide.
 

J515OP

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My post might be 3 or 4 steps behind now, but it was current when I posted it. (I'm The Digital Reader) And I've also posted other stuff including a post about installing apps on the Nook Tablet.

I totally get that things move really fast in the early stages. Just trying to make sure people aren't freaked out by the headlines ;) We all just have to keep our heads and realize that things aren't always instantaneous.

I have definitely already seen people post what they are or aren't going to buy or do based on information that is either inaccurate or incomplete. Some people have even said they are not going to buy a device just because it wasn't rooted on the first day! There is a reason there is a rule not to ask the devs about the time lines of these things and yet people do it anyway. Nobody is forcing you to buy a device on the first day it is out. Can't we all just be happy there are enthusiast who even bother to do these things in the first place?

:) JP
 

idontknow

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Jan 13, 2011
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I'm waiting patiently for developments and in the meantime I' ll play with my nook colorCMSeventized !

Sent from my NookColor using Android Tablet Forum
 

discothan

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Feb 16, 2011
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Just like company that doesn't want their product hacked....Sony PS2/3...XBox...Nintendo. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Look...FBI has been hacked over and over again. We just might have to wait a bit for a few people to pick up the challenge!
Think of it as this...the more you wait...the more refurbs will be collected and placed back out there by BN at a lower price.

Another way you can keep your appetite wet, just sideload some apks and get it to your liking, even though its not CM7/9.
 

Spider

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It looks like I was right in the first place.

Yes you were, and I'd appreciate it if you'd keep us Nook fans informed here if there are any further developments in this area.:cool:

BTW Nice blog, lots of good information there.
 
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