Nook price cut to $199, Wi-Fi only model launched

Barnes & Noble also upgrades software again

Barnes & Noble today launched a Wi-Fi-only version of the Nook for $149 and cut the price of its original Wi-Fi and 3G version from $259 to $199.

The price cut is welcome news to some analysts and users, who have seen the market flooded with E-Ink black-and-white e-readers since the Nook was launched in November.

Many analysts felt the original price for the Nook and competing devices would be too high when compared with color-display tablets and related devices that can also be used to read e-books.

By comparison, the cheapest iPad goes for $499, and can be used for many full color multimedia functions, including video, as well as for reading e-books. Informa Telecoms & Media recently said sales growth for broadband wireless e-readers such as the Nook with Wi-Fi and 3G will be limited by 2014 .

By dropping the original Nook's price to $199, Barnes & Noble becomes the first e-reader maker to break the $200 barrier. The basic Kindle from Amazon is still priced at $259.

The value of the Wi-Fi-only version is improved somewhat because Barnes & Noble offers free access to AT&T's nationwide Wi-Fi network, now in about 20,000 locations. That's in addition to the Barnes & Noble in-store Wi-Fi previously available.

Barnes & Noble also announced it is shipping its latest Nook software update, version 1.4, which offers faster access to content. The bookseller updated the software in April to version 1.3 to allow in-store reading of selected content and free content, among other changes.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is .

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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