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Barnes & Noble announced today that the company's Nook HD and HD+ tablets now support Google Play, vastly increasing the number of apps that Nook owners can load onto their devices. In press remarks, Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch laid out what the change means for consumers.
"By adding Google Play to NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, we are offering our customers even more great entertainment on our award-winning tablets. Now with access to more than 700,000 apps and the best reading experience available, NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ are must-see products for entertainment lovers looking for high-quality tablets at incredibly low prices," stated Lynch.
Expanded entertainment options aside, the move essentially helps broaden the Nook's appeal.
Google Play support opens up a library of 700,000 apps versus the mere "thousands" that were available via the Nook Store. Like Amazon's Kindle, Nook is based on Google's Android operating system but sports a branded and customized interface and operating environment.
There are other perks for users that rely heavily on Google's cloud services suite.
"Customers will have instant access to Google Search, Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps, now built in to NOOK HD or NOOK HD+," boasted Barnes & Noble in a statement. The company also promises fast browser startup and page loads thanks to Chrome support.
Google Play's healthy Android app library may also help Barnes & Noble climb back up the tablet vendor rankings.
During the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), the bookseller managed to ship nearly a million Nook tablets for a 1.9 percent share of the market, enough for the number five spot, according to IDC. In the New Year, Microsoft's Surface bumped the Nook from its perch.
According to the research group's newest data, Microsoft shipped 900,000 Surface tablets (RT and Pro) in 1Q13. It was enough to propel Microsoft into the top five, behind Samsung, ASUS, Amazon, and of course, market leader Apple.
Current Nook HD owners won't have long to wait to dive into the Android app ecosystem. The company informed that Google Play, Chrome and an assortment of Google services "will be available to all new and existing NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ customers in the US and UK at no cost through an automatic over-the-air update that will roll out to all devices connected to Wi-Fi beginning today."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.