B&N’s Nook Tablet Sales This Year Ranged Between Diddly to Squat

For some time now I’ve been pointing at the frequent Nook sales and the readily available quantity of refurbished Nook Tablets, Nook Colors, and more as a sign that B&N wasn’t doing well in the hardware market . The buy one get 0ne free sales were a particularly troubling sign, and the recent quarterly report showing a loss in the Nook division was also not good.

And today IHS iSuppli confirmed the worst of the rumors. They released a summary of their latest market estimate for the global tablet market, and B&N’s sales have dropped.


According to iSuppli’s analysts, B&N sold only 459 thousand Enhanced ereaders last quarter, and they sold around 614 thousand in Q1 2012. In contrast, Amazon is estimated to have sold over a million Kindle Fires each quarter.

If you add up the estimated KF sales from last fall, Amazon sold around 6 million tablets. In that same time period B&N sold somewhere around 3 million, with most of those sales occurring in the Christmas season last year (chart). Yeah, things aren’t going well for B&N.

I wonder how these poor sales will affect their future plans? I’ve heard via retail channels that B&N plans to launch another Android device before possibly switching to another platform. If sales are this bad now, they might be thinking of moving up the time table.  A radical shift can often appear to be an improvement while masking fundamental issues.

31 thoughts on “B&N’s Nook Tablet Sales This Year Ranged Between Diddly to Squat

  1. I just ran into this (old) infographic breaking down the installed base of tablets (and ebook readers?) in the US.
    http://www.onlineuniversities.com/e-book-nation

    They report Apple at 61% and Amazon at 14%.
    Nook? 1%

    That looks a bit…low…

    Not sure about the methodology behind the chart but it might explain the red ink at Nook despite their reported 24% ebook market share.

    Anybody have more credible data?

  2. So…if 45,000 tablets were sold this year so far…and lets say half were sold in America….then 22,500 tablets were sold to 300 million americans this year. That’s about one new tablet for every 12,500 americans this year alone!

    Now I understand why every tech writer and his brother has published a novela of blog each about tablets this year. Why at this rate…even I may have to buy one.

      1. Still, I wonder why I don’t see them more. In restaruants, dr’s offices, etc… I see about one a week. 5 of my colleagues at work have them…I never see but one of them ever use them. I wonder how many manhours are spent on tablets?

  3. So I guess they’d be moving to WinRT? Or whatever the successor to WinCE is, given Win RT’s technical requirements. But I’m not really sure why not Android. Android is free and Win RT’s main selling point is the ability to use MS Office, which would be pretty unpleasant on a 7″ screen. Unless they are transitioning to a 10″ screen (but then, why not just sell Surface and cut a deal with MS to put the B&N app on all Surfaces?)

    1. Windows RT is a specific tablet configuration built off Windows8 for ARM. (Much as PocketPC was a specific PDA configuration built off WinCE.) Other builds of Windows 8 are possible and at least one more is forthcoming: Windows Phone 8.

      So a Win8 for ARM build solely for ebook readers is theoretically possible.
      More likely, they would use the Windows Phone 8 build and leave off the voice apps and services.

    2. I’m white collar IT and I still wonder if there’s really that much of a need today to view MSOffice files on a tablet. I’m not saying there’s not, I just wonder. My colleagues that try to sell me on IPad/Android don’t seem to miss the opportunity. But then we are tech and not mainstreet business. So..I’m left wondering.

      1. A 7″ skinny tab is mostly a media consumption device ~ a Netflix app is a lot more important for most people owning an ereader+media table than MSOffice files. Its more useful on a 10″ fat tab.

        1. The table reports *shipments* not actual sales. There’s no telling how much of each are scattered throughout their respective retail distribution systems (shelves, warehouses, refurb facilities, etc.)
          That said, never underestimate BIG LOTS’ ability to move liquidation-priced generic asian electronics. ;)

  4. B&N needs to get out of the hardware business, as explained by the comments of Doug at http://blog.the-ebook-reader.com/2012/08/06/things-would-be-a-lot-different-if-i-ran-bns-nook-department/

    That said if B&N really sold 1 tablet for every 2 Kindle Fire’s I would regard that as pretty good – they never had a snowballs chance in hell of besting Amazon.

    The contrary view would be that sales of the Fire has also been poor, putting B&N in the category of miserable!

    1. A lot of it has to do with expectations.
      F
      IRE sold 4+ million over 6 weeks at launch; it has since sold maybe half that over 6 months.
      The best spin is to say it is showing very strong seasonality; the less kind might be inclined to say that once the hype died down, so did sales. Since 6-8 million a year isn’t too bad for a first-gen product, poor isn’t quite appropriate. (It is also within pundit expectation range.)

      Nook android numbers aren’t all that bad–certainly not miserable–but since we’re talking *shipments* and not sell-through there is no telling how many of those 2million-plus Nooks are sitting in warehouses. B&N has held more and more aggressive promotions on their gadgets than Amazon so the impression is their sales are under-running their expectations. Pundit expectations don’t figure into it since they didn’t get worked up enough over the color Nooks to actually make predictions.

      1. You look at their price point structure, and it looks like they wish to clear out the Nook Color and the Nook Tablet 16G … that is:
        Glowtouch $130 / Color $150 / Tablet 8G $180 / Tablet 16G $200

        … is going to sell Nook Colors to people looking for an ereader with some tablet functionality, but not willing to buy off-brance, and likely to sell more Tablet 16G than Tablet 8G.

        Which makes sense if the rumored new “revolutionary” screen technology ~ prosaically, substantially lower power consumption for substantially longer battery life is the best way to go for their specific strengths and weaknesses in the market ~ is coming out in October/November. Drop the Nook Color SKU, drop the Nook Tablet 16G SKU, push the price of the Nook Tablet 8G down to $160, and introduce the “New” Nook Tablet (16G & sd) at $200, and drop the Glowtouch by even $10, and they have:
        Glowtouch $120 / Nook Tablet 8G $160 / Nook Tablet 2 $200

  5. It goes to show that people don’t want to spend $200-250 for a dedicated ereader, those days are past. BN should open up to the whole android market or cut their losses and stick with their eink readers.

  6. I’m confused. A company that three years ago did nothing but sell paper books is now the fifth largest tablet vendor in the world (even though they only sell to the US) and they are a failure?

    Capitalism. Not quite a zero sum game.

    1. Considering that they reported a down quarter and sales are dipping and they’ve already tried to sell off their hardware division (and failed), yes.

      Just because they’re showing as the fifth largest tablet maker doesn’t mean they’re a financial success in that market.

      1. They had a down quarter in what is usually a down quarter for everyone (shit, APPLE had a down quarter last quarter). On top of that, content sales (the important thing with subsidized tablets like the NT and KF) were still on the rise, up 65% year-over-year.

        And please point out to me where they tried to sell off the NOOK division and failed. The “newco” spin-off (if that’s what you’re talking about) is proceeding along schedule according to the investor meeting after the last quarterly results, and I’m sure they’ll have more to say about it on the 21st. But that isn’t a sale anyway, it’s just going to be a subsidiary IPO to bring in more cash for the company. So please, prove me wrong.

  7. Nate,
    I don’t think you understood that table. Nook has captured 50% of the sales of Kindle, coming from zero 3 years ago. That’s quite phenomenal. And B&N never tried selling off their hardware division, they are spinning it off, but retaining ownership and getting MS to invest into it. You seem to dislike B&N because they don’t give you samples (according to one of your posts), but with such nonsensical writing that is so full of errors, who could blame them?

      1. That “strategic exploratory work” IS the spinoff that BN is doing with the NOOK division, and we already know all the details about that (it has nothing to do with selling it).

        Seriously, FUD much?

          1. Okay, fair enough. Amazon is technically newer to the android tablet game than Barnes and Noble and they outsold them. But so what?

            In November, Amazon had a market capitalization of about $98 billion dollars.

            At that time, Barnes and Noble had a market capitalization of about $700 million.

            Barnes and Noble is 140x smaller than Amazon, yet they sold almost half as many flagship widgets.

            Calling that a failure is asinine.

            Now, profitability- that’s a different story. Everyone but Apple and Google stinks on that account.

    1. Not that I much care but that table is for Color Media Tablets, not ebook readers.
      B&N had a one year headstart on Amazon and got doubled in less than a year.
      (The holiday quarter was worse: Amazon sold more fires in two Weeks than B&N sold Nook Colors in their first year.)
      And Amazon only sells the FIRE in the US just as B&N only sells their 3 tablets in the US.
      Apple and Samsung numbers are global.
      What the table is really saying is that media tablets are not a great business for anybody but Apple.

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