I have a press release from B&N sitting in front of me. They're extending the on the Nook HD and Nook HD+ that they have been running for the past week, and they'll be keeping the prices the same indefinitely.
For a "limited time" you will be able to get the 7" Nook HD for $130 and 9" Nook HD+ for $150, killer prices that are far below the price of their immediate competition, the Kindle Fire HD Android tablets from Amazon.
The prices are good at Nook.com as well as at B&N's remaining retail partners:
Just to put things in perspective, the Nook HD is priced at 35% less than regular retail, while the Nook HD+ is priced at 40% off regular retail.
Given that this is the second sale in less than a month, and given that the sale prices are costing B&N a lot of money with each unit sold, I would suggest that we are looking at a clearance sale in all but name.
B&N is getting out of the hardware business. Extending this sale is just another way to clear out hardware as expeditiously as possible (with the added benefit of not having to call it a clearance sale).
It's a shame that B&N is giving up on these tablets; they're pretty nice devices. The Nook HD is a 7" tablet with a 1440x900 resolution screen (the highest of any 7" tablets). It's running a proprietary version of Android on a 1.3 GHz dual-core CPU, and it ships with 8GB or more of Flash storage.. The Nook HD+ is a 9" tablet with a 1920x1280 resolution screen. It too is running Nook Media's own proprietary version of Android on a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU, and it ships with 16GB or more of Flash storage.
Both tablets have Bluetooth and a microSD card slots, but neither tablet has a camera. That put them at a disadvantage once they gained Google Play in an update just over a month ago and entered the general tablet market. Most $199 Android tablets released last year have at least one camera, and the new Nexus 7 is expected to have a pair of cameras.
I can't help but wonder if B&N looked at the specs on the tablets coming out in the next few months and realized just how under-equipped the Nook HD really is. They may have wanted to get the hardware out the door now, and were willing to take a painful sting in the pocketbook to do so. That fits with the clearance sale that B&N's retail partners had for the Nook Touch last month, and it tends to support the buyout rumor that has been circulating.
In early May 2013 Techcrunch reported that Microsoft was going to make a billion dollar offer on Nook Media. Microsoft has unofficially denied the buyout rumor but the denial comes across as less credible than the original rumor.
As it stands, B&N is cutting back on software development and clearing out hardware (including an ongoing sale on the Nook Touch and Nook Glow in the UK). If they're not entertaining a buyout offer then they are planning to simply shut down the Nook platform.
I'm betting that it is one or the other, folks, and I'm really hoping for a buyout offer. A shutdown would hand the ebook market over to Amazon, while a buyout would at least prolong the struggle a little while longer.
P.S. If anyone at B&N, Nook Media, or Kobo wants to leak details about the Rakuten offer, you know where to find me.