By Alexandra Burlacu | May 03, 2013 06:44 AM EDT
For a long time Barnes & Noble's closed ecosystem was a main source of criticism regarding its tablet offerings, but now Google Play is on the table.
The Nook HD and Nook HD+ are great pieces of hardware, but their closed software offerings severely limited their potential. Without access to the proper apps, having a fast device with a neat screen can only do so much.
Barnes & Noble apparently took note of that limitation, and now the Nook HD and Nook HD+ finally have access to Google Play. This means that owners of those slates will have full access to all of the 700,000 apps, Google Music and Google Video.
The company says it will add Google Play to its 7-inch Nook HD and 9-inch Nook HD+ tablets in the U.S. and UK on Friday, May 3, via a software update. This means a great jump from the roughly 10,000 apps Nook already had in its own store to the 700,000+ apps and games the vast Google Play has to offer.
The move comes after a weak holiday sales season for the Nook, which is striving to gain market share in the ever-growing tablet market. Nook tablets face tough rivals such as Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad, and Barnes & Noble hopes that Google Play access will make its tablets more appealing. According to CEO William Lynch, research and holiday sales show that consumers are shifting toward all-purpose tablets rather than simple e-readers.
"This deal is about plugging that gap," Lynch told Reuters. "Consumers told us they wanted more apps."
"By adding Google Play to Nook HD and Nook HD+, we are offering our customers even more great entertainment on our award-winning tablets," the CEO added in a statement to the media. "Now with access to more than 700,000 apps and the best reading experience available, both are must-see products for entertainment lovers looking for high-quality tablets at incredibly low prices."
Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets sold in stores as of Friday will already have Google Play on board. Existing customers, meanwhile, will be able to download it at Nook's online store and via an automatic over-the-air (OTA) update. The tablets will also get popular Google services such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps and the Chrome Web browser.