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Barnes & Noble Cuts Nook Prices

Barnes & Noble is cutting the prices of its 7-inch Nook Color and Nook Tablet devices, trying to keep its slate brand competitive with direct rivals such as the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7. You can now pick up a Nook Color for $150, an 8GB Nook Tablet for $180, and a 16GB Nook Tablet for $200. The price cut is a $20 savings for the Color and the 8GB Tablet, and $50 off the 16GB Nook Tablet.

The bookseller's Nook markdown follows an interesting few months for the tablet world. Microsoft in mid-June said it will release its own Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets this fall. The software giant's announcement was quickly followed by Google's late June launch of the Nexus 7.

Google's new tablet is in the same class as Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire. The difference for the Nexus 7 is that it's a full-featured tablet and not just a low-priced reader designed primarily for content consumption. The Fire and Nook, on the other hand, are all about consuming content since they come up short on standard tablet specs such as cameras, Bluetooth, and GPS. The Nexus 7 is also missing a few features such as a rear-facing camera and a wireless broadband option. Nevertheless, spec-for-spec Google's 7-inch tablet blows away the Fire and Nook Tablet.

[RELATED: Nexus 7 Tablet vs. Kindle Fire vs. the Rest: Spec Smackdown (Chart)

Not only does the Nexus 7 offer better specs, but at launch Google's tablet was priced the same as the Nook Tablet: $199 for the 8GB version and $259 for the 16GB model. Also, around the time of the Nexus 7 release, debut of a Kindle Fire 2 is expected -- so it's no surprise that Barnes & Noble decided to cut its tablet prices.

The M Factor

But the Nook price cut may also be a prelude to new devices from the retail book chain. In late April, Barnes & Noble entered into a partnership with Microsoft that included a $300 million investment from the software giant.

The two companies said the partnership, run as a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, will focus on e-reading devices intended as a textbook platform to compete with Apple's iBooks. Perhaps Barnes & Noble is getting ready to launch a new round of devices with its new partner.

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