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Barnes & Noble and Microsoft complete Nook partnership – but to do what?

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October 4, 2012

What will Microsoft do with Nook?

What will Microsoft do with Nook?

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In April, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced a partnership. B&N was spinning off its Nook division into NOOK Media LLC, and Microsoft was to have a hand in it. The move raised a few eyebrows as analysts and pundits speculated what the move was about. Today Barnes & Noble and Microsoft have completed the partnership. Though we still don't know much about what the two companies are up to, we do know that this is a serious investment from Microsoft: to the tune of $300 million for a 17.6 percent stake (Barnes & Noble retains the remaining shares).

Why?

What interest does Steve Ballmer have in the Nook? (Original photo: gamerscore)

What interest does Steve Ballmer have in the Nook? (Original photo: gamerscore)

What kind of music will Microsoft and Barnes & Noble make together? Before Surface was announced, some had speculated that Microsoft was partnering with B&N to produce its own Microsoft-branded Windows 8 tablet. As we saw soon after, though, Surface didn't have a trace of Nook in its blood.

The most likely scenario is that this is an educational initiative. Microsoft and Barnes & Noble both know the potential of digital reading in schools and colleges. Both companies share a fear that Apple and Amazon will dominate that segment with the iPad and Kindle. Perhaps Microsoft decided that Surface – and other Windows 8 tablets – wouldn't be cost-effective.

Enter Barnes & Noble, which already manufactures e-readers and budget tablets that would fit the bill perfectly. With B&N trailing Amazon in the e-reader and cheap tablet wars, it could, in turn, benefit from a having a powerful big brother like Microsoft.

What else could it be? Will the 2014 edition of the Nook HD run Windows 8? Maybe future Nooks will control the Xbox 720? These are shots in the dark; we'd place the safe money on this move being aimed squarely at education. Either way, it will be interesting to see the fruit bore from the union of these two wild card companies.

What do you think? Is this all about education, or could it be something else entirely? Let us know in the comments!

For more information, see the full press release.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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4 Comments

Nook HD should *be* the next Xbox 720 with a Wi-Fi network disk player.

Robert DuBois
4th October, 2012 @ 12:23 pm PDT

Separating the Nook operations from their retail business may make it easier to partner with other companies who are also in retail, as they are no longer directly working with a potential competitor.

Jon A.
4th October, 2012 @ 01:58 pm PDT

May be Nook could develop and manufacture the Surface phone for MS !

Atul Malhotra
6th October, 2012 @ 12:24 pm PDT

Nook is the most kludged together program I have on my android phone, and I only continue to use it because they started with a slightly less draconian DRM than Kindle. Now Kindle has apps out for every OS, and a series of well priced very competitive tablets and e- readers. Nook has been moving in the wrong direction for a while now (try getting tech support or even basic support in a store) and could use a change, but I suppose this merger isn't promising in terms of moving things in the right direction.

Charles Bosse
10th October, 2012 @ 07:49 am PDT
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