Barnes and Noble have been busy this week. First they quietly announce NOOK Video, surprising everyone, and then quietly, in the dead of night, they announced the NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, two extremely well specc’d competitors to the Kindle Fire HD and Fire HD 8.9″. In fact, the hands on reports of the hardware and software indicate both devices are just as good, if not better than, the Fire HD and Nexus 7. So why bury the announcement in the middle of the night, with no fanfare?
The only explanation I can think of is NewCo (the NOOK/B&N college/Microsoft venture). So far, aside from the perfunctory regulatory announcement, we don’t know anything about this new Microsoft/B&N mash up. What we do know is that the current slate of releases were probably in the pipeline long before this partnership was born. And everyone speculated that Microsoft’s involvement meant NOOKs running Windows 8 in the future. It doesn’t take a great deal of advanced symbolic logic to see the equation here: Microsoft + Barnes & Noble= Burn off the non-NewCo NOOKs ahead of the finalized partnership.
This is the only logical explanation. The alternative is that someone at Barnes and Noble forgot they are in the midst of a competitive tablet season, and just decided to phone in their marketing strategy. Since Barnes and Noble doesn’t seem like they want to just give up and pull a Borders, there has to be some larger plan behind it. Even if there is no iPad mini, the NOOK HD is about to face off against a new Fire and the Nexus 7, both of which have been talked up heavily by the tech press. A big splashy press announcement is basically the first commercial for a new device. There are liveblogs, headlines in major newspapers, and a general sense of excitement. Then there’s another round when the reviews come out later. Why pass this up, unless they really don’t want anyone to care that deeply about the current iteration of NOOKs.
Even the announcement of NOOK Video ties into this…NOOK Video is designed to work on multiple devices and platforms, so it will be smooth and easy to tie it into a new flagship device later. The real wrinkle is the NOOK apps, but given the small number of apps and the controlled nature of the store, it might be possible to swap many of the Android versions for Windows ones without many issues. NOOK Books, of course, already work across multiple operating systems, so that’s a simple one.
What do you think? Is my theory totally crazy? Has Barnes and Noble just given up at trying to compete? Let us know in the comments!