War Erupts Between Kindle and Nook Over Battery Life

Amazon Kindle vs Barnes and Noble Nook Spy vs Spy cartoon

C|Net just received an angry response from the president of Digital Products at Barnes & Noble. I’d linked to C|Net’s story yesterday, so I was surprised that its facts were now being challenged. Barnes and Noble is now claiming that the Nook’s battery actually lasts more than two and a half times longer than a Kindle’s battery — at least under certain conditions.

“While reading at one page a minute, the all-new Nook battery lasts for 150 hours, where the Kindle battery, using the same page-turn rate, lasts for only 56 hours (both with Wi-Fi off)… In our side-by-side tests, under the exact same conditions, continuous use of the device resulted in more than two times Kindle’s battery life.”

If that’s true, then Barnes and Noble mangled the launch of their touch-screen Nook by botching their description of one of its main selling points. Paul Biba, a Kindle blogger, actually watched the official announcement live at a Barnes & Noble store in downtown New York City. And when the question of battery life came up, Biba reported, their official answer was that it was calculated “based on 1/2 hour reading per day with WiFi off. ”

The next day, Amazon claimed the Kindle could also run for two months on a single battery charge — if you only read it for half an hour a day.

You might wonder if Amazon was inventing new statistics — but apparently it’s the same claim that’s been around for years. In November of 2007, Popular Mechanics was already reporting that the Kindle’s battery would last for 30 hours — which of course breaks down into 60 half hours, or two months of reading just one half hour a day. (Assuming the battery isn’t also draining too much during the time that it’s not being read!)

And another obvious response is: who cares? How often would you need to read more than 30 consecutive hours without stopping to re-charge your Kindle? Obviously you can invent a few scenarios. (“What if I’m back-packing across hundreds of miles of Siberian tundra, and I’m also huddling in my tent each night trying to read War and Peace“?) But the distinction is a signal of a fierce competition between Amazon and Barnes and Noble, C|Net’s reporter points out, and “as these devices become more and more alike, marketing language becomes very significant, especially when it comes to selling points like battery life.”

Another blogger was more blunt. “Barnes and Noble pretty much called Amazon a liar for manipulating the battery life claims,” wrote Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader. But I’m more surprised by what Barnes and Noble was claiming about the Nook on Wednesday — since it’s very different than the performance statistics that they’d cited on Tuesday.

For example, Wednesday Barnes and Noble made an even more incredible claim. “While reading at one page a minute, the all-new Nook battery lasts for 150 hours.” Unless I’m missing something, that would come out to 300 days of usage (at a half hour a day) — which would be a whopping 10 months. I guess the battery must continue draining quite a bit during the 23.5 hours a day when the Nook isn’t running. Especially since the Barnes and Noble official also claims that the new Nook “offers more than 25,000 continuous page turns on a single charge.” But if you’re making just one page turn every minute, then shouldn’t that charge last 416 hours (or 25,000 minutes)? If so, that’d represent 17.36 days of non-stop use — but if you’re using your Nook for just 30 minutes a day, it comes out to 2.2 years.

And if the Nook can really run for 2.2 years on a single battery charge — then why didn’t Barnes and Noble just say so on Tuesday?

2 thoughts on “War Erupts Between Kindle and Nook Over Battery Life

  1. I sell both in my store, and i go by what the store training module says for battery life.
    Kindle 30 days
    Nook color 8 hours.

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