There are reports out today that Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) is set to launch an 8-Gbyte version of its Nook tablet tomorrow and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is expected to announce availability of the new device at about the same time. The lower storage capacity is expected to bring the price of the new Nook equal to the comparably equipped $199 Kindle Fire from Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). The entry level price for the iPad 2 from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is $499, with 16 Gbytes of memory.
The Nook needs to be competitive with the Kindle Fire as the two jockey for the number 2 position behind Apple. Both use the Android operating system from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and both have targeted the lower end of the tablet market, where Apple has chosen not to play.
If Barnes & Noble has any edge here, it’s in the company’s large bricks-and-mortar presence and in its deal with Walmart. Still, a $199 tablet is a fairly expensive item for the cost-conscious Walmart shoppers. B&N will have its hands full trying to unseat Amazon.