Microsoft and the NOOK?

How much this will shift the competitive ebook/tablet landscape remains to be seen; from the New York Times: “Microsoft Deal Adds to E-Book Battle” —

“The announcement was the latest surprise in an unpredictable and rapidly shifting e-book market, which is crowded with technology giants trying to chip away at’s dominance. Amazon once had close to 90 percent of the e-book market, but since then, a handful of players, including Apple, Google and now Microsoft, have edged in.”

The Nook devices have only existed as Android-powered devices so far, but it seems fairly likely a Windows 8-powered tablet is in the plans. Also worth noting, whether it becomes a thing down the road or not, was the non-exclusivity agreement: “The partnership is not exclusive to Microsoft, meaning that Barnes & Noble can still pursue other alliances with the likes of Google.”

As CNET (“Microsoft’s $300 million gamble on B&N: Hey, why not?“) notes, the Barnes and Noble partnership is, ultimately, just chump change for Microsoft ($17 billion in quarterly earnings) —

“And if the gambit succeeds, Ballmer will look prescient, having found a cheap way into a world currently dominated by Amazon and Apple. If Microsoft fails, it’s a meaningless tax write-off that won’t make a difference to the company’s stock (unlike Barnes & Noble, whose shares rose 52% on the news.)

Microsoft could also use a partner that knows what it’s doing. As Kevin Tofel reminds us, this is not the first time Microsoft has given the e-reading business a try. But big ideas don’t always pan out. Microsoft’s Windows Pocket PC platform for mobile devices debuted on April 19, 2000.”

“There is speculation that Barnes & Noble, as a result of this investment, will create new Nook devices that are based on Windows 8, a coming operating system designed for devices with touch-sensitive screens.

Neither party is confirming those plans.”

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