Barnes & Noble Thrusts Nook Into Samsung’s Galaxy

Barnes & Noble and Samsung on Wednesday jointly announced the Samsung the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook.

It is essentially the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 tablet, rebranded and preloaded with B&N’s content.

The move immediately sparked a not-quite-favorable comparison to Amazon.

“It’s an impressive effort, but even if they take a beachhead, they can’t hold it,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“Amazon can easily afford to counter them if they need to, and it is more likely to run them out of business more quickly,” he told TechNewsWorld.

The Nook-Lover’s Guide to the Galaxy

The 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, with 8 GB of memory, is available now at more than 660 B&N bookstores as well as online, for US$179 after an instant $20 rebate.

That’s the exact same price Samsung is charging for the plain old Galaxy Tab 4, so what makes the B&N tablet Nookish?

Well, it comes preloaded with more than $200 worth of free content from the Nook store, including bestselling books, popular TV shows, and issues of leading magazines. Included are three bestselling e-books — Freakonomics, The Wanderer, and I Am Number Four — and one episode from each of three hit TV shows: HBO’s Veep, NBC Universal’s Hannibal, and BBC America’s Orphan Black.

The free content includes up to four 14-day free trial subscriptions to 12 popular magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated, and US Weekly, together with the previous 12 issues of each title.

Further, customers will get a $5 credit to get started with the Nook Store, which offers access to more than 3 million books, including lots of popular comic books and graphic novels, art books, photograph collections, travel guides and cookbooks.

There are more than 9,000 books for kids, including chapter books and picture books with a proprietary interactive experience.

Then there’s the Nook Newsstand, offering the top 100 bestselling U.S. magazines available as both digital subscriptions and for single-copy sale, along with newspapers and magazines from around the world.

Users also can choose from a variety of Nook apps — lifestyle, productivity, news and entertainment, and games. They can access Nook Video to buy or rent movies and TV shows from major studios and networks.

What’s in It for B&N?

Barnes & Noble “is in the process of going out of business, largely because the market is going digital and they haven’t been able to turn the corner, so they are getting a bit desperate,” Enderle suggested. “They got a powerful partner and are making a massive investment to see if they can get people to come to their platform.”

B&N’s Nook segment had Q3 revenue of $157 million, more than 50 percent down, year over year.

“B&N wants to sell tablet owners content,” Tom Mainelli, a program vice president at IDC, told TechNewsWorld. “By partnering with Samsung to create a cobranded tablet geared toward presenting that content in the best possible way, they hope to encourage owners to buy more.”

Teaming up with Samsung “brings Barnes & Noble the brand equity Samsung has built up, and gives it a lot more credibility on the hardware side,” suggested Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner, “and it probably saves B&N a lot of money by having somebody else do the design.”

What Samsung Gets

Samsung “now has another customer they can sell tablets to,” Blau told TechNewsWorld. “The tablet business has been somewhat soft the past couple of quarters, and I don’t think people have been investing in them as much as last year.”

Indeed: Tablet display shipments fell 10 percent year over year in the first half of 2014, NPD DisplaySearch reported. Further, combined tablet display shipments to market leaders Apple and Samsung fell 34 percent during that period.

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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