Print media hasn't fared super well in the face of digital distribution. Turns out, a lot of people prefer live pixels to dead trees. So what's a company like Barnes & Noble -- with serious cash invested in both brick-and-mortar stores and the digital Nook ecosystem -- supposed to do in this new era of reading? The answer, apparently, lies in spinning off the Nook into an entirely new subsidiary company -- and giving Microsoft a 17.6 percent stake in the fresh venture. B&N did just that this morning.
Owners of the Kindle Fire were certainly fired up when Amazon disabled root access in the newest firmware update, but Nook Tablet users have even more reason to be upset. The newest update to Barnes and Noble’s device not only kills root access, but blocks the installation of third-party apps completely.
The Nook Color and its new brother The Nook Tablet have been more or less locked down in the Barnes and Noble provided interface. That says nothing of custom ROMs and the like, but for user that don’t want to go so far there is another option on the new Tablet. According to some industrious users, the web browser can be used to download apps. The process is far from perfect, but it’s better than nothing.
Over the last year, Microsoft has embarked on a crusade to secure license fees from device makers that use the Android operating system. While Google provides the Android source code for free, Microsoft claims to own patents infringed by Android. most OEMs have capitulated and payed up, but Barnes and Noble, which sells the Nook line of e-readers, has gone to court. Today, the bookseller turned tablet-pusher has asked the feds to get involved. B&N claims that regulators should investigate Microsoft for attempting to drive competition out of business.
According to Engadget, Barnes and Noble will indeed be announcing a Nook Color successor at its event on November 16th. The leaked documents obtained by Engadget refer to the device as the Nook Tablet, but that could be a placeholder. The specs of the Nook Tablet are strikingly similar to those of the soon to be released Kindle Fire, but just a bit better in some ways. The new Tablet is expected to look very similar to the original Nook Color, and is expected to sell for $250 at launch.
We like it when Amazon and Barnes & Noble go to war with each other. We like it because when the two sides try to undercut and one-up each other, the consumer wins every time. These two are responsible for sparking an eBook reader price war that brought significant savings to the eReader market in a short period of time, and it looks as though the two sides are getting ready to force the other's hand once more.
Is that the sound of Tap being played off in the distance? It appears that despite seeking debt restructuring and filing for bankruptcy was not enough to save Borders from its fate. The chain is closing up shop, taking all its remaining 399 stores with it. 11,000 employees are expected to be out of work.
It looks like Microsoft is taking the kid gloves off, and putting on the 'sue everyone gloves'. The software giant has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Seattle and the International Trade Commission alleging that Android, as implemented by Barnes and Noble in the Nook, infringes on Microsoft-held patents. This isn't Redmond's first volley against the little green robot, but it might be the start of a new trend.
Barnes and Noble this week reported its fiscal 2011 third quarter financial results, which as you might imagine is filled with numbers, but one stands out more than the rest. According to B&N, the Nook platform now accounts for a quarter of the eBook market in the U.S. Does it really? We're not sure.
It's a game of one-upmanship between Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Earlier this week, Amazon announced its third-generation Kindle is now the best selling product in the company's history, and not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble is saying the same thing about its Nook eBook reader.
"With millions of Nook eReading devices sold, the line has become [Barnes and Noble's] biggest bestseller ever in its nearly 40-year history," B&N said. "The new NookColor Reader's Tablet, introduced just eight weeks before Christmas, is the company's number one selling gift of the holiday season."
In addition, B&N said that even as its physical book business continues to grow, it now sells more digital copies than it does of the dead tree versions. On Christmas day alone, B&N logged more than 1 million eBook sales.