On The Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder offers a pretty big scoop based on insider information: someone at Barnes & Noble tells him that B&N is planning to reset its stores early next month to support a new 8” device. Details are sketchy—there are no new submissions to the FCC, and B&N’s marketing department isn’t saying anything—so it could be either a new Nook reader or a new tablet.
Nate is leaning toward it being a new Samsung tablet, like the Galaxy S2 8.0 ($435) or the Galaxy A 8.0 ($240), because B&N promised Samsung it would sell a million tablets and it hasn’t done that yet. This is a pretty big scoop, and congratulations are in order to Nate for lining it up.
The timing certainly makes sense—this is the time of year when retailers want to get new shinies in, to have plenty of time to build up advertising for Black Friday and Christmas sales. B&N’s digital sales have been a bit lackluster of late, but it’s always relied on the strong performance of its brick-and-mortar locations to pull it through. Putting a new tablet in would make sense, both for something to get people into those stores, and to possibly boost sales of Barnes & Noble’s digital content for people who buy it.
I was going to say something snarky about wondering why Barnes & Noble is even bothering anymore with the hardware, given that they’ve never had as distinctive a digital content offering as Amazon to support it. But on the other hand, B&N’s tablets have long been more general-purpose devices than Amazon’s, even before they gave up on creating their own custom Nook tablets and started rebadging Samsung’s tablets instead. You could install apps from the Google Play Store as well as B&N’s own, which Amazon would never let you do, and if B&N even has its own digital music and video sales, they’re not memorable enough to come to mind without actually going over to their website to look. Amazon’s own subscription-based and individual sale/rental music and video options are pretty much impossible to forget. (As for e-books, don’t make me laugh.)
So this simply seems to be continuing the same tradition of trying to sell the hardware rather than unique software. If nothing else, it’ll give people a reason to get into the store, which is where B&N seems to shine these days.