Already an investor in Barnes & Noble’s e-reader business, Microsoft is reportedly considering a $1 billion bid to buy complete control of Nook Media. The joint venture was spun off last year with the help of $300 million from Redmond for a 16.8% stake in the Nook e-reader, tablet and college bookstore business. Under the deal being discussed Microsoft would dump the college book division while retaining the digital assets.
Internal documents obtained by TechCrunch also mention Nook Media’s plans to pull out of the hardware business and instead focus more on distributing content through apps on “third-party partner” devices, consistent with rumors we heard back in February. This transition is expected to happen by the end of its 2014 fiscal year.
Curiously, the document says third-party tablets are due to be introduced in 2014, but it’s not clear how these devices might differ from what’s currently available on the market. As it stands right now, the Nook app is already available on Android, iOS and Windows.
The 10 million Nook devices sold so far won’t fall into the discontinuation pile immediately. Instead, the report suggest they’ll be supported for a while longer as they face their own gradual, natural decline in usage.
A deal would appear to suit B&N at a time revenue from content and devices continue to drop. But for Microsoft, whether paying $1 billion for a company that’s failing to take on Amazon is a smart business idea remains to be seen, as is what exactly this will bring to their platform that the Nook and Kindle apps don’t already offer.