Following Barnes & Noble’s announcement that it was going to abandon its tablet hardware business, the company slashed the prices of its Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets. Shipments had fallen dramatically since December, from about one million units to an estimated 600,000 units in the second quarter of 2013. In an attempt to clear out old inventory, the 7-inch Nook HD with 8GB of storage is now being offered for $129, down from $199, while the 8.9-inch Nook HD+ has been reduced from $269 to $149. Like the discounted HP TouchPad that came before it, Nook sales are now expected to explode in North America in the second half of the year due to their discounted prices. Digitimes noted that B&N’s departure from the tablet hardware space isn’t expected to “significantly impact” Taiwan-based manufacturers because the company had shipped only a limited number of devices. The Nook HD and Nook HD+ were manufactured by Pegatron, according to the report.
The low-cost tablet space is heating up ahead of what many expect to be an October unveiling of Apple’s (AAPL) much rumored iPad mini, and two new entries into this competitive space have just been announced. Barnes & Noble (BKS) on Wednesday took the wraps off its all new NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets, and they take aim squarely at the 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD slates Amazon announced earlier this month. These new NOOKs pick up right where Barnes & Noble’s previous-generation tablets left off, but they offer a number of notable improvements over their predecessors — and over the competition as well.