Samsung Scores New eBook Coup – Will Develop Co-Branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook Tablet

Galaxy-Tab-4-NOOK_25[1]Barnes & Noble has long been promising to launch a new tablet in partnership with a major device maker, and today that promise came true. The bookseller has just announced that they will be partnering with Samsung to produce a new Nook-branded Galaxy Tab 4 tablet.

The new tablet will be released later this year (in early August) and feature the Nook software and access to more than 3 million books, magazines and newspapers.

The tablet will be displayed along with the Nook Glowlight and sold at Barnes & Noble's 663 bookstores across the U.S. and online. Barnes & Noble, which is facing mounting losses in both hardware sales and ebooks, has also said that they will continue to offer the Nook GlowLight, which launched last Fall.

B&N hasn't released specific details on the specs of the Nook-branded Galaxy Tab 4, but based on the specs posted by Samsung I would say Nook is aiming for a lower market tier. The last Nook devices, the Nook HD and HD+, were premium quality enhanced ereaders when they launched in late 2012. They had screens and CPUs comparable to the best mid-level and premium tablets - for 2012.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, on the other hand, is more of a budget tablet. It runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat on a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon CPU with 1.5GB RAM, Wifi, and Bluetooth. It has a 1.2MP front-facing camera and a 3MP rear camera. Screen resolution is 1280 x 800. The Galaxy Tab 4 retails for $199, or about $80 more than  comparable tablets that don't carry a Samsung brand.

This deal is Samsung's second major ebook partnership in only 4 months; in April Samsung partnered with Amazon to release a Kindle for Samsung app. A short time later Samsung retired their ebook app in favor of the Kindle app.

The partnership with Samsung is very much the type of deal that many pundits expected when Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced the launch of Nook Media more than two years ago. Between the initial payment and performance terms built into the contract, Microsoft has invested upwards of $600 million in Nook Media. In exchange they got B&N's help with a Microsoft reading app which is expected to launch this year, and 30 localized Nook Stores in Europe and Australia. B&N has also announced that they will be retiring the Nook app for Windows 8 in favor of Microsoft's not-yet-launched reading app.

In related news, over the past year B&N has trimmed Nook staff, and on Thursday the company announced that Nook Media will relocate from their existing Palo Alto offices as another cost-cutting measure. Moving to offices in new technology campuses in Santa Clara and Mountain View, California are expected to save the company about $10 million in annual occupancy expenses, reducing its future lease commitments by about $102 million, the company said.

13 thoughts on “Samsung Scores New eBook Coup – Will Develop Co-Branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook Tablet

  1. I think the title has it a bit backwards. This seems more of a coup for B&N/Nook as they’re the gones with struggling hardware sales and Samsung is the largest Android manufacturer (I think also in the mobile space, right?) So even when their stuff is overpriced, Samsung tends to sell in part due it being the best recognized brand in regards to android and they have a HUGE marketing budget. Personally I don’t like Samsung’s devices nor their software but they do provide the best wacomm enabled android tablets so I’ll most likely continue to buy from them when it comes to large tablets. Likewise this might even help justify another niche, the one where kids tell their parents that they can use their tablet for school/reading, so if it comes Nook branded/bundled, then they can get their school books more easily…

    But kudos to Nook/B&N for keeping themselves in the game even if it via partnerships.

    1. I don’t think this is going to be a big deal for either company, but I think Samsung gained more that B&N. The tablet maker scored more retail space. They also get signage.

      In short, the marketing value may be worth more than the actual tablet sales.

      1. Totally. But Samsung doesn’t need this while the Nook division does need help so I figure that Nook might feel the benefits more than Samsung does. Might.

    1. From the press release it appears BN is handling software while Sammy deals with the hardware.

      Which is good, because TouchWiz is an affront to humanity.

  2. With the noblest of intentions, Microsoft really ended up with the short-end of the stick on this one. They had hoped for a robust, world content partner — an admirable dream — but the stars just didn’t align. BTW, somewhere along the way, MS and NB&N did sya they’d renegotiated their partnership deal. My understanding was there was an initial payment of $300M to be followed by $60M/yr against royalties from content sales. When the content sales didn’t match the plans, and B&N pulled back from international expansion, the deal was changed. I imagine those trailing payments were significantly downsized.

  3. Minor correction: BN is not facing “mounting losses”. The losses from the NOOK division are actually decreasing. What they are experiencing is (sharply) decreasing sales.

  4. I love my Nook HD+ and would be interested if they make one the same size. I actually like the B&N software over the normal Android OS on other tabs and phones. I’m really interested in the pricing.

    1. The Nook reading applications have always been significantly better than their Android counterparts. (I’ve always found this strange since they are both on Android.) Hopefully this leads to an improved Nook for Android application, but perhaps I’ll still have to buy Nook branded hardware to get decent software.

      I personally like the 7″/8″ size. I have a Nook HD, and the screen is gorgeous (the color is better than the Nook HD), but it’s just a little too big and a little heavy for long reading. The screen size is great for magazines, but a bit too large for novels (unless you like big fonts or margins…).

      It’s a shame that the screens on the Galaxy Tab 4 are, strictly looking at resolution, a step down from the current generation, but I realize cost is a hugely important factor.

      I like both the Android and Nook interfaces, but ultimately its the ability to install new features, like Swapps, that I really appreciate.

      1. You’re right, I really like the Nook OS. the reading software is much better than the Nook app. I can’t pin point it but its just a better experience. Now, if they would do a trade-in discount I’d really be interested.

        1. For one thing, The Nook Android app tries to go online and redownload book covers each time you wake it up. It will throw a hissy fit if it cannot.

          And that’s just the first problem with the app.

  5. I wonder why people buy that crap hardware of Samsung’s when they could get much better hardware for the same price. It’s just unbelievable.

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