Leslie Kaufman for The New York Times:
A person familiar with Barnes & Nobles’s strategy acknowledged that this quarter, which includes holiday sales, has caused executives to realize the company must move away from its program to engineer and build its own devices and focus more on licensing its content to other device makers.
“They are not completely getting out of the hardware business, but they are going to lean a lot more on the comprehensive digital catalog of content,” said this person, who asked not to be identified discussing corporate strategy.
On Thursday, the person said, the company will emphasize its commitment to intensify partnerships with other tablet producers like Microsoft and Samsung to make deals for content that it controls.
I’ve always liked the Nook hardware, and often, Nooks have been significantly better than the corresponding Kindle models.
But I’ve hesitated to recommend Nooks because B&N’s content ecosystem was never better than the Kindle’s, and B&N’s future has seemed uncertain at best. With the ebook business still being so DRM-heavy and divided into a small number of incompatible walled gardens, it’s important to invest in a device with the biggest content library and the parent company with the healthiest future. In this business, that has always been Amazon.
For B&N to reduce or abandon their hardware efforts seems like a waste, but they may not have much of a choice.