Barnes & Noble launches Nook Apps with Android 2.2 update

Just three weeks after Barnes & Noble introduced a software development kit and related tools enabling programmers to deploy and market applications via the company's Android-powered Nook Color e-reader, the bookseller chain unveiled Nook Apps, offering consumers more than 125 reading-themed software experiences optimized expressly for the device. Launching in conjunction with the Nook Color's upgrade to Android version 2.2 and expanded support for Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR, Nook Apps touts both free and premium e-reader applications including games (e.g., the bestselling Angry Birds), multimedia apps, calendar and weather solutions. Roughly half of all paid Nook Color apps are available for $2.99 or less, with the majority priced under $5.99.

Barnes & Noble notes that more than 5,000 content providers and developers have registered with its Nook Developer program, among them Chronicle Books, Condé Nast, Concrete Software, Gameloft and Namco. Developers can leverage Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 tools including Flash Builder 4.5 and Flash Professional CS 5.5 to build interactive Nook Color apps in categories like Children, Education & Reference, Entertainment, Games, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle & Interests, News & Weather, Productivity and Tools & Utilities. There is no fee to join the Nook Developer program--participants receive 70 percent of Nook Color app revenues, and may offer free trials to users. B&N adds that it has received hundreds of developer requests to qualify for application submission in the three weeks since it opened the Nook Developer program. For more information on the Nook Developer initiative, click here

Nook Color version 1.2 also promises email access and enhanced web performance, effectively positioning the seven-inch tablet as a more cost-effective alternative to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad tablet: At $249, the Nook Color is half the starting price of Apple's iPad 2. As its name indicates, the Nook Color also touts a color touchscreen--Amazon.com's rival Kindle e-reader unit includes a gray-scale screen without touch-sensitive functionality.

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