Two tablet titans are joining forces. The conquest at hand? Your digital bookshelf.
Samsung and Barnes & Noble announced the two would team up to release Nook-branded Galaxy Tab tablets in the coming months. Barnes & Noble hopes the move will help revive sales of its flailing e-reader, while Samsung hopes adding another feature to its multi-use tablets will give it an edge over the iPad. For both companies, it is seen as a needed move to stand out in an increasingly saturated tablet market.
“Samsung has had a strong relationship with Barnes & Noble, offering the company’s award-winning reading experience to users of Galaxy Tab products,” says Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America, in a release. “Samsung is dedicated to providing consumers with choices that best fit their lifestyle. So, we are excited to be taking this next step with Barnes & Noble to offer Galaxy Tab 4 devices that are tailored to the needs of their customers and enhance the NOOK reading experience.”
The hybrid tablet, which will be called the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, will be a 7-inch device sold alongside Nook e-readers in Barnes & Noble stores. The device will combine Samsung hardware with Nook’s access to more than 3 million e-books, magazines, and newspapers. Samsung and Barnes & Noble did not release any more information as to what other features would be available on the tablet or the price, though more information is likely to come out before its anticipated release date in August.
The move is indicative of Barnes & Noble’s admission that hardware is not its forte – the company added in the release that “working with Samsung on co-branded tablets will allow [Barnes & Noble] to reduce its exposure to the substantial cost structure and other financial commitments that accompany ownership of the hardware production aspects of the NOOK tablet business.” From here on out, content will be its major focus.
Barnes & Noble has struggled to sell Nook devices and content. Last quarter, the company saw a 50.4 percent decline in sales, and a 26.5 percent year-over-year drop in sales of digital content. Joining with Samsung will allow it to focus on its original purpose – selling books – while leaving the hardware to a company that has proven success selling Android-based tablets.
Samsung’s motivation isn’t entirely clear yet, aside from getting its name on yet another tablet, providing more market penetration. Perhaps the future could hold a closer relationship between Samsung’s tablets and e-readers. For now, it does give it the closest relationship with Nook of any tablet, though iPad users can download a Nook app to access content at a price.
The tablet market has been rapidly expanding this year, with players such as British supermarket giant Tesco getting in the game. Forecasting firm IDC predicts this year tablet sales will grow 12.1 percent over last year.