Looks like Barnes and Noble has hit upon a new way to keep their NOOK business relevant, while still getting out of the costly hardware space — they’re partnering with Samsung to make NOOK branded Galaxy Tablets! This looks like a win for everyone. B&N will continue to sell tablets, and Samsung has a new avenue to showcase their products.
Barnes and Noble does say they will continue to sell the NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight, which makes sense. There’s only so much upgrading and development that needs to go into an eInk device at this point, and B&N can refresh the NOOK Glowlight every few years with better screens and more memory. Plus, they avoid sinking large sums of money into hardware research and development.
Meanwhile, there’s a cynical part of me that thinks Samsung had a warehouse of unsold Galaxy Tablets and this made for an easy way to get rid of them without much effort. Since the NOOK Tablet line already uses Android, it should be fairly easy to add B&N’s software to the Galaxy Tablets, and since Samsung is already pushing the tablet envelope they can offer up trickled down hardware to B&N that competes well against Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Basically, as Amazon continues to make the Kindle Fire into an actual tablet, B&N/Samsung (Barsam and Nobsung?) can keep pace with ease, since the Galaxy Tablet line will naturally feed the NOOK line with hardware.
This really is a brilliant deal-Samsung sells more hardware, and B&N can focus on selling books, but both companies keep a toehold in the ebook business. It’s one of the first big moves we’ve seen from B&N’s NOOK division in a while, so let’s hope this is a sign of more competitive changes to come!