Microsoft buys an ebook strategy
There was a time when Redmond was on the cutting edge of digital publishing and distribution. Although they made a lot of noise in the early noughties, like their tablets, Microsoft minted ebooks never took off.
“The formation of Newco and our relationship with Microsoft are important parts of our strategy to capitalize on the rapid growth of the NOOK business, and to solidify our position as a leader in the exploding market for digital content in the consumer and education segments,” said William Lynch, CEO, Barnes & Noble in a press release posted on Redmond’s website. “Microsoft’s investment in Newco, and our exciting collaboration to bring world-class digital reading technologies and content to the Windows platform and its hundreds of millions of users, will allow us to significantly expand the business.”
So, what’s it all about? In addition to the exciting “Newco” name, which is just a placeholder until a real name is agreed on, a Windows 8 version of the Nook desktop software is coming.
Yup, aside from the $300 million, the big news is an app, which one knows would have happened regardless of the partnership agreement.
The real deal
Nook momentum has stalled in recent months, though likely not as badly as Barnes & Noble’s ink on dead trees business. Nevertheless, more than a few thinking people, like Marco Arment, say that the Nook is a none-too-shabby cheap tablet that’s better than Amazon’s various Kindles.
That said, the Nook needs something to seriously differentiate it from its blandly functional Amazon and super-cool-expensive Apple competition, which together account for close to 90 percent of the tablet market.
Perhaps the real meat of today’s Microsoft + Barnes & Noble hookup is a further extension of the Windows Mobile platform? A Windows-powered Nook would solve problems for both companies, especially Microsoft which doesn’t have a low-end tablet let alone an ebook strategy.
A match made in heaven or just another example of two turkeys mating with the hope of fledging an eagle? I’m going to reserve judgement, at least for now…
What’s your take?