Barnes & Noble's Nook HD adds Google Play store

Barnes & Noble is adding the Google Play store to HD versions of its Nook tablet, in a bid to counter slowing sales of its devices.

Nook HD and Nook HD+ customers will be able to access over 700,000 Android apps and games, millions of songs and more, besides the Chrome browser, Gmail, YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps, the bookseller said Friday.

The Nook Store will also continue to be available to users. It continues to feature books, magazines and Nook apps tailored for the devices including educational apps for kids, the company said.

By including Google Play on the Nook, Barnes & Noble may be bowing to user pressure to open up its devices to more content. A general lack of content has been the Achilles Heel for the Nook HD, as the Nook Store's virtual shelves are far more barren than the competition's. The company did not disclose the revenue it would share with Google in its release.

In its fiscal third quarter ended Jan. 26, Barnes & Noble said its Nook business had revenue of US$316 million, down 26 percent year-on-year, mainly because of "lower device unit volume." The company said it would focus on digital content, which saw sales increase 6.8 percent over a year earlier.

Barnes & Noble is providing software update version 2.1.0 that provides access to Google Play and the other Google services. The software update will be available to new and existing Nook HD and Nook HD+ customers in the U.S. and U.K. at no cost through an automatic over-the-air update, starting Friday for users connected to Wi-Fi. The software can also be updated manually.

Amazon's Kindle Fire line still does not have access to Google Play.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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