Future Nook hardware and services uncovered

Several trademark applications give clues to future Nook models as well as on-device services.

While the Nook Color has captured much of the news about Barnes and Noble’s e-reader family and electronic store (for books, magazines, and eventually apps), the company appears to have plans to diversify the Nook platform beyond its current Nook, Nook Wi-Fi, and Nook Color lineup.

Applications for trademarks related to additional Nook products were recently uncovered by Pocketnow.com. So far, searches for Nook-related products have turned up what appear to be two additional devices (the Nook 2 and Nook Kids) as well as what appear to be additional services for Nook devices. The applications for the Nook 2 and Nook Kids trademarks were, in fact, filed on the same day as the Nook Wi-Fi and appear to describe future products (as opposed to on-device services).

Nook 2 really shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Amazon has launched three generations of Kindles and a handful of other e-readers are also reaching a second generation mark. Exactly what features will be different in terms of the Nook 2 isn’t clear. The description is identical to that of the original Nook and Nook Wi-Fi (the Nook Kids description is also an exact match to those). Given the identical description, Barnes and Noble might not have even had solid designs or specifications when it applied for the trademark.

Nook Kids, however, is almost certainly a variation of the Nook that is designed to display children’s books. It’s likely to include some advanced image handling like that in Apple’s recent iBooks 1.2 update. Whether it will follow the same format (which Apple has only shared with select partners so far) isn’t clear. It’s also pretty likely that the Nook Kids will be a more rugged and child-proof design and may offer a more kid-friendly interface (though without knowing the age range that Barnes and Noble is aiming it for, that’s hard to judge).

Four Nook-related service trademark applications were also discovered including Nook Study, Nook Smart, Nook Cook, and Nooksellers. If I were to guess, I’d expect Nook Study and Nook Smart to relate to textbooks or education-oriented reference titles. Nook Cook is clearly (by name and description) a cookbook-related service (perhaps one that allows searching of multiple electronic recipe sources like cookbooks and, perhaps, magazines and/or websites). Nooksellers has a description that implies customer service features available both on the device and in stores as well as product recommendations and social network integration.

While the exact features or launch timeframes for all these new Nook developments isn’t clear, it’s worth noting that Barnes and Noble has plans to diversify both its devices and the services that they offer. It will also be interesting to see if any of these new services will be available to other devices (like the iPad or Android handsets) through the Nook app or if they will be value-added components of the Nook devices. In any case, it seems that Barnes and Noble has some serious plans for its e-reader platform and that they look to be broader in scope than Amazon’s plans for the Kindle.

Ryan Faas writes about personal technology for ITworld. Learn more about Faas' published works and training and consulting services at www.ryanfaas.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanfaas.

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