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Barnes & Noble announced late last night via press release that Google Play, Google’s app, music and video store, will be showing up on the Nook HD and HD+ tablets. The Google Play store will be added on through an over-the-air software update and will also be available on new Nook HD and HD+ devices sold at retail.

The addition of the Play Store on Nook devices is an interesting — and perhaps desperate — move for Barnes & Noble’s tablet ambitions. The company originally followed in the footsteps of its chief competitor, Amazon, by attempting to build a walled-off ecosystem for Nook users to purchase content.

Google Play running on a Nook HD tablet. Photo credit: Engadget
Google Play running on a Nook HD tablet. Photo credit: Engadget

Unfortunately, consumers haven’t taken to the Nook world the way they have to Amazon’s offerings. Barnes & Noble is a big name in books, but it lacks Amazon’s tech credibility and the online retailers enormous library of music, movies, TV shows and ebooks.

Amazon also had a head start building an app ecosystem, starting first with its Appstore for Android before moving full speed ahead with the Appstore for its Kindle Fire tablets.

With Nook tablets being flanked by the Nexus 7 on one side and the Kindle Fire on the other, Barnes & Noble’s decision to include Google Play is an acknowledgement that the Nook isn’t the best tablet running Android or the tablet with the best ecosystem at the moment. With Google Play, though, Nook devices suddenly offer the best of both worlds — tablets built around Barnes & Noble content that can also run Google’s app store and other popular Google apps like Chrome, Gmail and Google Maps.

Kindle Fire tablets can’t do any of that, something Barnes & Noble surely hopes consumers are aware of when they’re trying to decide between the two devices.

Will this move pay off for Barnes & Noble? At the very least, it makes the idea of owning a Nook tablet easier to swallow. The Google Play store hosts over 700,000 apps, while Barnes & Noble’s own Nook Store can only boast 10,000 or so apps. Nook tablets will become instantly more useful now that the number of available apps has increased and Google’s own apps are available for download. We’ll have to see if this has an impact on Nook sales, though.

Would you consider owning a Nook tablet now that the devices will be able to run Google Play? Let us know.


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