Microsoft Invests $300 Million in the Nook

Posted on April 30, 2012

Microsoft and Barnes and Noble have announced that Microsoft will invest $300 million in the Nook and it will be spun off as a separate joint venture.

It may seem,  just as Microsoft is on the cusp of releasing Windows 8, strange of them to invest in a rival platform that’s based on a forked version of Google’s Android platform. Aren’t they helping a competitor?

I see a few points here:

  • This is primarily about content. Supporting the Nook means gaining access to ebook content and controlling that access. It means Windows 8 tablet users will be able to read e-books without having to rely on Amazon.

  • Bolstering Nook also bolsters a competitor against Amazon; reducing if ever so slightly, their weight in the market.

  • The Nook isn’t Competition. The Kindle Fire hasn’t provided solid competition to the iPad; and in the same way neither will the Nook. They are light content consumption devices. Once users are ready to create on their tablets, why not upgrade them to Windows tablets rather than iPads?

  • For Barnes and Noble, it allows them to focus on saving their stores, but maintains their insurance policy with a participation in the Nook product line. Separating out each quite different company should allow better focus.

Overall this looks like a great deal for both parties, and a welcome bolstering of competition in the ebook marketplace. However, one question remains: Wouldn’t Kobo have been a better partner for Microsoft?

Where the Nook is limited is its US focus, it’s not even available in Canada. Kobo, on the other hand, has launched internationally. For Microsoft to meet my expected strategic objectives for the deal, it needs an international service. May be there are opportunities to help Nook go global!