Barnes & Noble Announces Cloud Video Service for Nook

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Barnes & Noble announced on Tuesday Nook Video, a cloud-based video service for the company's line of Nook tablets. The company will allow users to rent or buy movies and TV shows, store them in the cloud, and watch them through a new free app available for the devices and apps for other platforms the retailer said will be released "soon."

Nook Video

Barnes & Noble's Nook is analogous to Amazon's Kindle platform. It started life as an e-reader with gray scale E Ink devices that could do one thing, read ebooks (ePubs, in this case). Like Amazon, and before amazon, Barnes & Noble used Android to develop a color tablet dedicated to accessing its own content.

The Nook Color Tablet and its successors have been fairly successful, but Barnes & Noble doesn't have anywhere near the content library that Amazon, Apple, and Google have. Nook Video will help narrow that gap by bringing major studio and network TV content to the platform.

The company listed HBO, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, STARZ, Viacom and Warner Bros. Entertainment, and The Walt Disney Studios. Movie and TV show titles include, Toy Story 3, The Avengers, 21 Jump Street, Awkward, The Artist, Breaking Bad, Dora the Explorer, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Spartacus, Magic City, The Walking Dead, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter movies, The Dark Knight, and The Hangover.

Barnes & Noble's Nook tablets are known for offering little storage for user-content, and they don't come with a lot to begin with (8GB for Nook Color, 8GB or 16GB for Nook Tablet). The company is getting around this by storing your streaming videos and purchased videos in Nook Cloud, cloud-based infrastructure set up for the platform.

That does, of course, mean that an Internet connection will be required to watch most videos, but we won't know more about the specifics until the service is launched.

Nook Video also supports Ultraviolet, the studio-owned service that gives DVD and Blu-ray owners access to digital copies of their movies online.

Nook Video will be launched this fall in the U.S. and by Christmas in the UK. The company hasn't announced other markets yet.

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Notice that Barnes & Noble was able to bring most of the major studios and networks on board for this service, while Apple is having problems getting those same media companies on board for its unannounced TV service.

Ironically, but not coincidentally, this is because Apple would do a better job of leveraging video content, thus concentrating power in Cupertino. In general, the studios and networks are happy as can be to enter into new partnerships with anyone but Apple.

Another factor is likely to be Ultraviolet. Supporting this platform is a smart move for Barnes & Noble because it significantly broadens the existing content libraries its customers can access. That could be important for bringing new customers to Nook and keeping its existing customers in the family.

It was also most likely key to getting the studios themselves on board. As suggested above, the studios want to maintain control over digital versions of their IP, and they see Ultraviolet as key to doing so.

Be that as it may, this is a very good move for Barnes & Noble. It significantly increases the usability of Nook tablets, though we do have doubts about the viability of cloud-only storage of videos. We'll have to see how that works out.

Barnes & Noble's next challenge will be to give users more features and more user storage on its Nooks.

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+1.  Anyone but Apple, seems to be the mantra of Big Media. This tells you what they care about end-users. iPad has most of the market.

Let the fight among Fire, Nook and Nexus7 begin.

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