Today’s Microsoft Announcement

June 18, 2012

There has been plenty of guessing about what Microsoft will announce at its media event this afternoon in Los Angeles. Now, one publication claims to finally have the answer.

TechCrunch’s Peter Ha reports hearing from sources that Microsoft is planning to announce a new tablet on Monday in partnership with Barnes and Noble.

Is it the Windows 8 tablet???

As Ha points out, this would mark the first big announcement since the two companies entered into a strategic partnership back in April.It looks like it’s a “New Nook”.

Microsoft has invested $300 million in a joint venture with Barnes & Noble.

The plan is to spin out the “Nook” e-reader business from Barnes & Noble, along with its College business.

Microsoft’s $300 million investment is worth a 17% stake in the new company, which means it’s valued at $1.7 billion.

While Ha’s sources didn’t offer up many details about the new device, one source did suggest that the tablet could be the first non-Xbox device to offer Xbox Live streaming.

Based on the tablets that Barnes and Noble has introduced to date, this could end up being good news for Apple as it would suggest the new tablet would be more of a Kindle Fire-killer than an iPad killer. Then again, with two fairly cheap tablet models in its lineup already, perhaps Barnes and Noble is looking to do something a little more high-end this time around.

The tablet becomes the new PC???

U.S. Tablet Ownership Nearly Doubles Over Holiday Season

January 24, 2012

Big uptake for the new “PC” market.

The number of U.S. adults owning just a tablet nearly doubled from 10 percent in mid-December to 19 percent in early January

After fairly slow-going sales throughout much of 2011, the tablet market finally boomed during the holiday season, nearly doubling tablet ownership among U.S. citizens.

A recent series of surveys were conducted by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project throughout late 2011 and early 2012 to track the sales of tablets amongst American buyers. The first survey, conducted between November 16 and December 21, 2011, consisted of 2,986 people age 16 and up. The second survey, conducted between January 5 and 8, consisted of 1,000 U.S. adults while the third survey, taken between January 12 and 15, used another 1,008 adults.

The pre- and post-holiday surveys looked at tablet sales over the holiday season, and found that the number of Americans owning either a tablet or an e-reader jumped from 18 percent in December to 29 percent in January.

The number of U.S. adults owning just a tablet nearly doubled from 10 percent in mid-December to 19 percent in early January. Those owning e-readers made the exact same increase in the same period of time.

It’s not too surprising that tablets/e-readers were the hot holiday gift items of 2011. With the introduction of affordable tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, which are priced at $199 and $249 respectively, tablets became more accessible for the general public. Before that point, tablets were expensive (the iPad 2 starts at $499) device’s that didn’t seem like a necessity for most.

Paper Based Books Takes A Hit: Barnes & Noble Mulls Splitting Nook Business, Sells “Dead Tree” Publishing Company

January 5, 2012

Barnes & Noble Is Getting Crushed After Lowering Guidance And Announcing Plans To Explore Spinning Out The Nook Business

Two bits of news crossed the wire this morning, neither of them good for traditional publishing. First, Barnes&Noble has reportedly put their publishing arm, Sterling Publishing, up for sale, a company it bought in 2009 for $115 million. Sterling produces puzzle, game, and crafts books for kids and adults. Not as big a deal as it sounds, but it still points to a reduced interest in paper-based sudoku.

Second, B&N is mulling the spin-off of the Nook business, a move that will shelter the burgeoning epub business and, more important, pull it out of the listing ship that is B&N proper. The company reported a loss of $6.6 million this quarter, down about half from last year, but the Nook business has thus far been quite lucrative, leading the company to “pursue strategic exploratory work to separate the NOOK business.”

The Nook generated most of B&N’s online sales for a total of $327 million in revenue, an increase of 43%. Quote a B&N press release, “This increase was driven by continued growth of the NOOK business, offset by a decline in online physical product sales.” All nook sales brought the company $448 million, with an increased potion of that coming through third-party retailers – a point that doesn’t look good for the actual book stores.

In all, they sold 70% more Nook devices over last year.

The long tail is curling up on itself. Books that never would have seen the light of day, full of vampires, florid prose, and covers that look like they were done by a medicated third-grader, are selling like Dickens for 99 cents a pop. Back catalogs are being decimated by digital reprints and even the dream of print on demand is reaching it’s obvious conclusion. There is no such thing as vanity publishing anymore, just writing that is good and writing that is bad. The market then decides.

Pour out a little strong coffee for B&N’s book stores, folks. The captain is disembarking ship.

Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Pulling Sales From IPad, E-readers

November 29, 2011

Kindle Fire is drawing away sales from Apple’s (AAPL) iPad, other tablets and e-readers, ChangeWave Research said Monday.

Among consumers who plan to buy a Kindle Fire, 23% put on hold or canceled plans to buy an Apple iPad and 9% did the same for other tablets, a ChangeWave survey shows.

But Amazon also is cannibalizing the e-reader market, where it dominates. Of consumers planning to get a Kindle Fire, 12% said they put off or canceled getting an Amazon Kindle e-reader and 5% did the same for the Barnes & Noble (BKS) Nook e-reader, ChangeWave said.

The presence of the $199 Kindle Fire on the market also could mean fewer notebook PCs being sold this holiday season. The survey indicates that 7% of Kindle Fire buyers are delaying or canceling plans to get a laptop. PC manufacturers have said the Apple iPad has cut into demand for notebooks overall.

“This is the holiday season of the tablet,” said ChangeWave analyst Paul Carton. “It’s going to outperform any other electronic item on sale over the holidays.”

The most important purchase factors for Kindle Fire buyers were price (75%) and e-reading features (22%).

Nook Tablet vs. Kindle Fire: Is either tablet a solid iPad alternative?

November 7, 2011

Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble bring worthy competitors into the low-cost tablet game …

Apple may be at the top of the tablet game, but that hasn’t stopped the world’s two biggest booksellers from making their own contenders to throw in the ring. Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet are both low-cost alternatives to Apple’s popular iPad that pack quite a punch of their own. Both tablets sport 7″ displays and perform many of the same tasks as higher-priced alternatives.

Which tablet will come out on top? My take, Amazon because of the low cost Amazon shipping with the tablet.

Size The Kindle Fire is 7.5″ x 4.7″ x .45″, while the Nook Tablet is slightly larger at 8.1″ x 5″ x .48″. Even though the Nook Tablet is larger is size, it weighs 14.1 oz., slightly less than the Kindle Fire’s 14.6 oz.

Data Both the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are wifi-only devices. If you want to use them on the internet, you have to be connected to a wireless network, whether you’re at home, a local coffee shop, or work. Some other tablets, including the Apple iPad and Motorola Xoom, offer a 3G data connection option that allows you to download content anywhere you can get a cell signal.

Processor The processor speed of a tablet determines how fast it is able to do things. Both the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire have dual-core processors. The Fire has a 1GHz OMAP4 processor with 512MB of RAM, and the Nook Tablet has a 1.2GHz OMAP4 processor with 1GB of RAM. The advantage goes to the Nook Tablet; however, the differences in speed are close enough that you may not notice a very big difference between the two when performing most functions.

Content With the Kindle Fire, you purchase content you want to play on the device from Amazon, which also makes the tablet. Amazon offers movie rentals, movie downloads, and music for sale, and the company wants you to use Amazon to purchase all of those things to use with your Kindle Fire. If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, you can access a lot of free content, including a free book rental each month and instant streaming for some 10,000 movies and TV shows.

On the other hand, Barnes & Noble doesn’t offer audio and video downloads, so it has to rely on other services to provide them. That said, the Nook comes preinstalled with popular entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora, which all offer tremendous amounts of content at a low price.

Battery life Barnes & Noble claims the Nook Tablet offers nine hours of video playback and 11 hours of reading time on a single charge. The Kindle Fire offers a shorter battery life at only 7.5 hours of video playback on a single charge. Actual usage, of course, may vary.

Tablet Market Catches Fire

November 7, 2011

Utility — It’s the software that matters. ICS needs to be the universe’s software, not a closet to garner users to buy things. More photos:

New color nook, new lower prices. Un gard … Amazon

Today in New York City, Barnes & Noble introduced the $249 Nook Tablet, an updated version of its 7″ Android tablet, and a slew of software updates to its existing products while slashing their prices. In the process, B&N’s CEO slammed almost all of the hardware Amazon offers as inadequate and poorly designed. It’s a somewhat strange tactic for a company that was also proudly proclaiming that it had the best-selling Android tablet on the market, but B&N is clearly a bit concerned by the recent Amazon product introductions.

B&N was a relative latecomer to the e-reader market, and its original Nook was a somewhat awkward hybrid of an eInk display and a small color screen that helped control it. Since then, however, the company has split its product line, providing an eInk-based Simple Touch and the Nook Color, a 7″ color tablet, with the latter beating the Kindle Fire to market by a considerable margin. Although it is Android based, the Nook provides a limited experience, with no access to the official app store. Still, as B&N CEO WIlliam Lynch proudly proclaimed, it became the best-selling Android tablet on the market.

The Nook Color will remain on sale, but it will now be joined by the Nook Tablet, which was introduced today. Priced at $249, the new model will feature some excellent specs: a 1GHz dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage, with a further 32GB available via an SD card slot, all packaged with the same screen that the Color model featured. It will also have a significantly updated version of the customized version of Android Gingerbread used by the existing tablet, although that will be made available for existing Color users.

All of these specs were used as clubs to beat on Amazon during the product introduction. The Fire’s stats—half the RAM and Flash memory, shorter battery life, heavier weight—were all highlighted for criticism. In fact, Lynch said that, to rush the Fire to market, Amazon used the same reference design and manufacturer that put together the Blackberry Playbook (although that hardware was generally well received, so it’s not clear that this is a negative). Given the time spent on Amazon’s offerings, it would be tempting to think that the Nook Tablet was rushed to market, but it will be in stores by next week, so clearly this has been in the works for a while.

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