What’s this? A company that dares to offer an Android 2.2 (Froyo) update for a device while disabling access to the Android Marketplace? This has got to be the greatest crime against the Android ecosystem, right? Apparently not, for that is exactly what Barnes & Noble is planning to do for its Nook Color e-book reader, which is slated for its Froyo update sometime next month.
It is widely accepted that a mobile device’s appeal is largely reliant on the operating system used to power it. And in the same vein, the popularity of the mobile OS being used to run a device is mostly determined by the number of downloadable apps available for said platform.
That being said, attempting to ship a mobile OS such as Google’s Android OS on a device while disabling access to the Marketplace, one of Android’s key selling points, should be nothing short of suicide right? Apparently, Barnes & Noble think that it is not that great an issue. After all, that is the exact thing the largest US book retailer has in mind for its Nook Color ebook reader which was recently launched with Android 2.1, but without access to the Android Marketplace.
Now, barely two months after the Nook Color was introduced, Barnes & Noble have announced that a firmware update for the ebook reader is in the works and is expected to be ready for download come January next year. But once again, the book retailer has dropped a bombshell by claiming that the update to Froyo will also come without the Marketplace application. The reason for this omission is simple: Barnes & Noble wants to push their own Nook Developer Program, which is like an app repository of sorts similar to what Marketplace has to offer. And it makes little sense for Barnes & Noble to jeopardize their own program by pitting it against the more popular and well-established Android Marketplace.
In addition, it would also be a good time to point out that, in spite of the OS used to power it, the Nook is still an ebook reader: it is no smartphone, and a tablet it definitely isn’t. Therefore, people should not expect it to work like one, even if it means living with the limitations and restrictions Barnes & Noble has imposed upon it, even if it means living without one’s daily fix of Angry Birds.
More importantly, the fact that the Nook Color runs on Android means that it is possible to root the device and install custom apps, if Marketplace access is really desired.