On Monday, Engadget reported that Barnes & Noble will be discontinuing the 3G version of its Nook e-reader, though its Wi-Fi-only Nook will remain on shelves. The news, which comes to Engadget by way of an unnamed source, has raised some eyebrows in the tech world, as bloggers wonder what this will mean for the e-reader market and for Barnes & Noble's overall product line. Below, some of the reactions:
- The 3G Era Is Over "We've received hard evidence from within B&N that the Nook is being discontinued, with sales to seemingly continue until stock is exhausted," writes Darren Murph at Engadget. "The outfit is encouraging retail partners to not send out any bulk orders for the Nook 3G, as there simply won't be sufficient quantities to fulfill those orders. Of course, we're told that the company never actually received a huge amount of Nook 3G bulk orders to begin with, so maybe WiFi really is everywhere these days." Murph adds a clarification that "the discontinuation isn't due to the lack of bulk sales, they're just the first casualty of a dwindling supply."
Here's What Might Have Happened The tech site Electronista explains the market forces at work. "The Nook 3G had supposedly never been in great quantities, but it's implied that the Wi-Fi model may have cannibalized the 3G version relatively quickly," reads a piece at the site. "Barnes & Noble may have also unintentionally squeezed out the Nook 3G at the high end as the Nook Color, while costing $50 more, has full web browsing support and can support magazines and newspapers that won't display properly on the cheaper e-paper models."
Wi-Fi Is Just Better "When it comes to eReaders, it looks like customers prefer to have a WiFi-only model," writes Will Shanklin at Android Central. "As eReaders only need data connections for downloading books (usually not something you'll do everyday) and syncing, it makes perfect sense that more customers opt for a cheaper WiFi model. It's been a slice, Nook 3G."
Kind of a Weird Move David Carnoy at CNET points out that "it would seem odd for Barnes & Noble to discontinue the 3G/Wi-Fi version of the Nook and tell customers they could only get the Wi-Fi-only version. The fact is, Amazon offers both a 3G/Wi-Fi Kindle and Wi-Fi-only Kindle, and Barnes & Noble would most likely continue to offer models that compete with what Amazon's got." Carnoy's a bit skeptical of the report, recalling past Nook rumors that turned out to be baseless, but he adds that "this latest story was written by veteran Engadget reporter Darren Murph, so we're taking it more seriously."
Eh, This Isn't a Big Tragedy "A world without Nook 1 wouldn't be a huge loss," writes the blogger Switch11 at Kindle Review. "Nook 3G wasn't like the Kindle 3G--It didn't have free Internet bundled in, and it didn't have a ton of add-on features like popular highlights ... If B&N is seeing 3 Nook WiFis sold for every Nook 3G sold, then it might as well switch over to Nook WiFis completely." The author guesses that Barnes & Noble won't get hurt on this deal, since it only stands to lose customers who "wanted an eInk screen, wanted 3G in their eReader, did not mind paying $50 extra for 3G, did not mind paying $199 for an eReader ... So, B&N might not really lose that much."
Time to Grab a 3G Nook, Obviously "It's hard to say what will happen--particularly without knowing what manner of 'hard evidence' Endgadget has," writes Hayley Tsukayama at The Washington Post. "But if you've been thinking about buying a 3G Nook, you might want to break open that piggy bank now. Just in case."