Cannon Cat Launches on to Nook Color and Nook Tablet

Cannon Cat Launches on to Nook Color and Nook Tablet

Jul 6, 2012

Loqheart’s Cannon Cat was well-received on the iOS App Store, not just by players, where it amassed over a million downloads, but received critical praise from Apple, as it was their iPad Game of the Week, and got a glowing review on 148Apps. Now the game is making the jump to Android, and it’s doing something interesting. One, the game is going from free to paid on Android. Generally, the reverse happens on Android due to the issues with making money off of selling apps directly to customers. However, Loqheart is planning on selling the game exclusively on the Nook Store for Nook Color and Nook Tablet for $2.99, to hopefully make money off of its game on Android the old-fashioned way.

Cannon Cat, for those that haven’t played the iOS version, is a puzzle game of sorts where players must launch a cat through perilous levels, trying to rescue floating goldfish and reach the end of the level intact. Powerups are available to help make that job just a little bit easier. Cannon Cat is available now.

The Hills Are Greener: How Google is Hindering Android

The Hills Are Greener: How Google is Hindering Android

Apr 9, 2012

I have become convinced that the biggest hurdle for Android right now is Google.

The weaknesses that Google has in selling directly to consumers are coming to hit them hard. Amazon is making developers more revenue per user than Google is, and it ain’t close. Google’s own internal product strategies are in flux, with a long public manifesto saying they need to focus on their core products being released. This is one of the giants of the tech industry, and they have the biggest mobile operating system in the world, but they have still found ways to bungle so much of it.

Now the latest rumor is that Google wants to sell the much-rumored-but-never-seen Nexus Tablet to customers directly on the web. That worked so well for the Nexus One, right? Granted, a low-cost tablet is different than a phone which confusingly costs more than a bigger screen device. But if Google goes with this strategy, then they’re making a huge mistake, especially if they want to really stand their ground in the market of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.

Both of those devices are easy to find at retail – and for the latter, not just Barnes and Noble, either. Brick-and-mortar retail may be on a downswing, but the fact that someone can just go to a store and feel the device in their hands is a huge plus. Amazon is also the e-commerce leader, and that they can easily get the device in customers’ faces is a huge plus for them. Barnes and Noble has certainly been helped by having the Nook in not just their own storefronts, but by being in stores like Target as well. Having that public face is a necessity, and if Google follows through on their plan, it will backfire on them.

The Kindle Fire

Amazon’s other advantage is that they are very good at selling products directly to customers. They are a commerce company, they know how to get product to customers, and get the money from customers. While they also provide the pipeline to do so (and provide servers and web hosting for much of the internet, so that can’t be underestimated), and sell from third-party vendors on their website, the fact is that they know how to sell to consumers. The fact that they are dramatically outperforming Google on their own OS with a third-party store and ‘unofficial’ device is rather telling.

Google is an intermediary company. Google is what people use to get their info to them. They do that very well – their search is still king, and Gmail is still widespread. The point is that both of those products try to act as the pipeline that gets information to users that they want. Google’s failings come from when they try to be that direct provider. They’ve built an increasingly-capable operating system in Android, but they have shown their difficulties in getting quality products to customers. Google Play is struggling at making money for developers despite the number of Android devices out there. Heck, they can’t even get their stock operating system out there because the manufacturers and carriers have customized it to their whim, providing generally negative experiences.

They have failed to keep their phones up to date. They have sold phones that are underpowered and unsupported even when customers buy them. Google has found ways to make good hardware with timely updates (the Nexus devices have been critically well-received), but customers don’t have these devices.

So, with an idea that could have some viability – a graphically-powerful, low-priced Nexus Tablet? Instead of finding ways to put it in consumers’ hands easily, and having the natural ability to brag that they have more apps at launch, they’re going to try and sell it themselves? While it’s still rumor and it could be nothing, does it not reek of a patently Google decision?

Google has mismanaged Android to the point where they may actually make more money off of their services on iOS than they do on Android. The platform that they own. It’s crazy to think about, but it just might be reality.

I think the mobile market is far better than it was before Android came along. The problem is that because of Google’s own incompetence, it could be far better than it is. Google has the power to change things. They just seem unwilling or unable to use it.

G5 Entertainment Bringing Their Games to Nook Color and Nook Tablet

G5 Entertainment Bringing Their Games to Nook Color and Nook Tablet

Feb 17, 2012

G5 Games have announced that their games will be coming to the Nook Store. As developers and publishers are learning, the Android Market isn’t the only place to distribute games. There are plenty of secondary markets to work with as well, including prominent stores for tablet devices, like the Amazon Appstore for the Kindle Fire, and the Nook Store for the Nook Color and Nook Tablet. Their games have been releasing to the Amazon Appstore over the past few months, and now games will be releasing on the Nook Store. Three titles are planned to be released on the Nook Store: Stand O’Food, Supermarket Mania, and Mahjongg Artifacts. All games will be optimized to work with the Nook Color and Nook Tablet. These time management, strategy, and puzzle titles will release in the “coming weeks,” so Nook device owners will want to keep an eye out for these games on the Nook’s built-in store soon.

The Hills Are Greener: All I Want for Christmas is an Android Tablet

The Hills Are Greener: All I Want for Christmas is an Android Tablet

Dec 19, 2011

This promises to be a huge time of year for Android tablets: between the Kindle Fire being the most gifted item on Amazon, Barnes and Noble launching their new Nook devices including the Nook Tablet along with the still-on-the-market Nook Color. Plus, the Nook Touch is actually an Android device with an e-ink screen, and it’s actually possible to run Android apps on it after rooting it. This is very unsupported functionality, though. This is along with other cheap Android tablets that are on the market at bargain basement prices, and those high-end models at the iPad’s price point.

While sales will obviously be a huge barometer for the success of these devices, the other question will be quite simply if users will enjoy these Android tablets. Like it or not, the iPad is still the champion of the tablet market and what users are going to compare these tablets to. If the tablets don’t perform up to snuff, will people lose any faith in Android? The greatest fear that Google and other Android supporters have to have is that the current rush on Android tablets winds up creating a greater demand for tablets, but a dislike of the Android tablets released causes people to just be driven to the iPad. Long-term, these cheaper tablets may be bad for Android.

I personally have been telling friends interested in tablets that the iPad is a superior choice to the Android tablets. In particular, the smaller app selection on the Nook and Amazon stores represents a stumbling block, especially as even with Market access these tablets still pale in comparison to the iPad in terms of apps. Cost is a concern with them, and that is where Android tablets will succeed – being a fraction of the cost is a humongous selling point that the iPad just can’t compete with.

As one Twitter user pointed out, many tablets like the Kindle Fire are being given as gifts, and if users dislike them and start to try and return them or sell them secondhand en masse after Christmas, Hanukkah, and Festivus, then Android vendors could be seeing a lump of coal come next year when the next round of Android tablets come out.

Rundown: Nook Tablet Hands On Review

Rundown: Nook Tablet Hands On Review

Nov 28, 2011

I am a true-blue, dyed in the wool Apple iOS device supporter. I have had an iPhone since day one, and I own and work with iPads and Mac computers every day. But I have to tell you, right here: I am seriously, significantly impressed with Barnes and Noble’s new Android-based nook Tablet. Wow.

Opening the now-familiar nook-style packaging, I felt something I’ve only experienced with the Apple design-centric packaging before – a sense of familiarity and comfort. I’ve owned a nook since the very first eInk device they released in November of 2009, and have upgraded since then to a nook Simple Touch eInk reader. Each iteration of the nook device has been boxed in a similar solid feeling cardboard box. These boxes are easily opened, with the cord and power plug in a separate bottom section, the device itself snugly ensconced in the top. Lifting the lid on the nook Tablet was like coming home, and my inner geek squee-ed a bit.

The device itself is beautiful – looking almost exactly like last year’s nook Color (which I skipped since, well, I *have* an iPad) except the shade of grey of the frame. The screen is a long 8.1 inches by 5.0 inches, and the whole device feels solid yet intimately holdable, with a weight of 14.1 ounces and a thickness of just shy of a half an inch. At first, I thought using it in landscape orientation, especially while reading, would be awkward. After several days of comfortable before-bed reading, I can say that it excels as an e-reader in either orientation.

Speaking of reading, as a long time B&N account holder, I already have about 40 books that I’ve either purchased, sampled, or gotten for free through the in-store promotions over the last couple of years. It’s a joy to turn on the nook Tablet, log in to my B&N account, and have most of my preferences and books ready for download to this specific device. This is cloud-based heaven for book and content lovers. Even my social network preferences were filled in from the one account log in. Brilliant!

Reading books is as fantastic as ever. Tapping on words and passages brings up a host of options, including an onboard dictionary look up feature as well as an easy social network sharing ability. The LCD backlit display isn’t the way I want to read all my books all the time – I’ll save my nook Simple Touch eInk reader for that – but it’s very usable, allowing me to adjust brightness down in a dark room with a fairly low glare screen. Good stuff when I only have the one device.

But I didn’t pick this one up to be my eReader. The nook Tablet has a 1 GHz dual core processor with 1 GHz of RAM (twice that of the competing Amazon Fire). The onboard memory is 16 Gb (with an unfortunately under explained 1 Gb only reserved for user owned and ad hoc data – more on this in a tic) with an micro SD slot to expand that with up to an extra 32 Gb of storage space.

Barnes and Noble doesn’t talk up the walled memory approach it’s taking with the nook Tablet. Essentially, users have only 1G of onboard memory allowed for their own non-B&N content. The rest of the 16 G is reserved for B&N content, which will include some reported third party media partners soon, as well as their own movie rental service. Add that kind of data, as well as the larger sized magazine content already available, and that “only B&N content” section will likely fill up fast. I was initially disappointed that this was the approach, but so far have not had an issue with it, and don’t expect to.

The app store approach here is similar to Amazon’s – Barnes and Noble curates their own version of the Android app store to provide an easy of entry to neophyte potential customers. While I still plan on rooting the device at some point to make te entire Android experience available on my new tablet, I sincerely appreciate this approach when I consider my parents or other family members who might want to dip their toes into the water of downloading apps without having to manage the chaos that is the Android app marketplace. Even with my technical savvy, I have to say I enjoyed the hand-holding.

The app store on the tablet itself is well laid out. Pressing the ‘n’ button at the bottom of the device brings up the navigation buttons, which include home, library, shop, search, apps, web and settings. Tap apps and get the currently installed apps on the device. This can be laid out in two styles: a grid/bookshelf type view in either a general or alphabetized flavor and a list view with app icons to the left, descriptions to the right. At the top of any of these views, a SHOP NOW link is present. Tap it and go directly to the apps portion of the B&N online store, provided the nook is connected to the internet via WiFi. Categories are perhaps more fine grained than what I’m used to on the iTunes App Store, with each large category further refined with smaller subcategories. For example, the Education and Reference category has Children, Dictionaries, Special Education, Medical, Encyclopedias, and Legal subcats. Granted, many apps in each of the subcategories seem spurious (why is Amazing Zen Quotes in the Special Education category?), just having more specificity is truly wonderful. I look forward to more apps and better categorization in the near future.

Searching for apps is another matter, however. When searching for a specific app, I found that the results include books and magazines that match the search term as well. This is no way to run an app search. A search for ‘IM’ brought up IM+ (for $9.99 – ugh), but only after five books with the word “I’m” in the title. I’d like to see a separate search for apps that does not include books, even if the app offerings are currently slim.

Which, interestingly, does not seem to be the case. I’m tempted to say that the app store on the nook Tablet feels more populated than the Nintendo DSi online store felt when it was first launched, but I don’t have any hard numbers to back that up.

What doesn’t this tablet have? Well, a camera, 3G, GPS, or Bluetooth. That’s a lot of missing stuff to make this a full tablet experience. However, is this such a bad thing? This is a new tablet category, as can be seen with the competitor, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which doesn’t have these things, either. No, what this new type of tablet brings to the party is a sweet little consumer level device at a great price point. What swayed me to the nook side of town was the extra & expandable storage, the fact that I am already a Barnes & Noble customer (my purchased books are now available on both my nooks and my computer), and the local presence of a B&N store in my city for warranty or other tech support. That being said, this is a fairly user friendly device – folks new to the tablet or the eReader scene will be able to use the nook Tablet right out of the box. To me, that’s a big mark in the nook Tablet’s favor.

Overall, the nook Tablet is a fine entry level device for media consumption, book reading, and basic internet functionality, like email and web surfing. It’s not an iPad killer, nor even much of a competitor. It’s in fair competition with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and – I believe – is the better of the two devices on specs alone. Of course, not having a Fire to back that opinion up is something that I’m willing to change, if I end up with my hands on a Fire. For now, though, I’m glad for the purchase of the nook Tablet, and look forward to taking it with me to places that the iPad might be a bit of an overkill. Man, I love the future.