B&N Cuts NOOK Price, 7” Tablet Market Foreshadows iPad Mini Cost

Barnes & Noble dropped the prices of all of its tablet devices Sunday, including a $50 cut on its 16 GB NOOK Tablet. The price cuts to Barnes & Noble’s compact tablets, when compared to other devices in the rapidly maturing 7-inch tablet market, begin to paint an interesting price picture of where Apple may eventually price the rumored but widely expected 7.85-inch “iPad mini.”

7-inch Tablet Price Comparison

Prices of major 7-inch tablets help define the rumored “iPad mini” price range.

The 16 GB NOOK Tablet fell to $199 from a previous price of $249, the 8 GB version to $179 from $199, and the reading-focused NOOK Color to $149 from $169.

The price cuts come shortly after Google released its first tablet, the Nexus 7, last month. Google’s tablet, with 8 GB or 16 GB of internal storage, are now priced slightly higher than the NOOK line, at $199 and $249 respectively. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, although embroiled along with its larger sibling in the international patent fight between Apple and Samsung, launched in April with an 8 GB capacity for $249. Meanwhile, Amazon’s 8 GB Kindle Fire tablet, launched late last year, remains priced at $199.

Most of the smaller form factor tablets can’t compete with Apple’s flagship iPad on hardware features, but they enter the market at less than half the cost of the cheapest iPad configuration. With rumors of an iPad in the 7- to 8-inch range reaching a fever pitch, many analysts believe it is only a matter of time before Apple enters this segment.

Apple has never felt obligated to be a price leader, but the Barnes & Noble price cut does help to define a reasonable price range for the anticipated “iPad mini” and the future for the iPod touch which, at $199 for 8 GB, may seem “overpriced” to new consumers entering the market.