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B&N Releases New Update for Nook Windows 8 App, Continues to Neglect Other PC and Mac Apps

hero_windows8_e[1]B&N has just rolled out another update for their 8-month-old Windows 8 app. According to the press release, this update adds:

a new user interface, faster performance and the most requested features including highlighting, annotations, dictionary lookup, find in books, improved shop and search functionality, and the ability to sideload ePub and PDF files from their local drives. Users can now search for content in their library or the shop by simply starting to type, which will initiate the search charm.

Given that Windows 8 had around a 4% market share (source), I have to wonder why B&N is wasting resources like this.

OSX has a larger market share (7%), and the Nook for Mac app has not been updated since late 2011. Heck, Win7 and WinXP still account for over 80% of the OSes running on PCs, and the Nook app for PC has not been updated sinceĀ  March 2012.

Barnes & Noble is once again lavishing attention on an app that hardly anyone can use, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why.

I’m betting that B&N is contractually obligated to update the Windows 8 app. This would be the kind of thing Microsoft would demand in exchange for the $600 million they promised to invest in Nook Media ($300 million at the announcement plus $300-ish million later). In fact, Microsoft’s ongoing investment in Nook Media is probably directly funding development of the Windows 8 app.

That ongoing investment might also explain what few details B&N has shared about their wreckage that used to be their international expansion plans. I was told yesterday that B&N was "working together with Microsoft to launch in additional countries". Now I have to wonder if that expansion is going to occur in Microsoft’s own Windows Store rather than as independent local Nook Stores.

If anything that is probably a good sign that MS has an interest in the long term health of Nook Media. After Barnes & Noble goes bankrupt next year, Microsoft will likely decide to buy Nook Media out of the bankruptcy so they can have their own ebook division (like Samsung, Sony, or Google).

Admittedly that will reduce the stature of Nook Media from being one of the players to being one of the also-rans, but at least it won’t be completely dead.

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lomda67 June 26, 2013 um 9:41 am

B&N announved that they won’t produce any Nook tablets in the future. So what if future Nook tablets will be Windows 8 RT tablets? Then the investment in the Windows 8 app would suddenly make a lot of sense!

Jean K June 26, 2013 um 10:16 am

Maybe adoption within Windows 8 will pick up now that highlighting is supposed to work? I’ll be testing at least that much on my little Asus Windows 8 laptop myself. The Asus is not RT… But an upgrade to the Nook app might actually make the Surface running RT useful for something other than as a weighted dust collector with a cool keyboard cover!

flyingtoastr June 26, 2013 um 10:33 am

We’re just going to ignore the fact that Amazon hasn’t updated their legacy apps in nearly as long.

Nate Hoffelder June 26, 2013 um 10:42 am

My copy of K4PC was updated on 1 June 2013. It has support for digital comics and KF8. Nook for PC, on the other hand, can’t support the digital comics or magazines sold by B&N.

BTW, Kindle4Mac was last updated in September 2012.

fjtorres June 26, 2013 um 10:37 am

Why is B&N supporting Win8? Oh, $600M, give or take a few.
That Microsoft "windfall" of last year had strings; produce and support Nook for Win8.
Whatever they do with/for the other apps and OSes, Win8 they *have* to support.
There’s still $300M in the pipeline they can’t turn their back on.

Chris Conn June 27, 2013 um 11:37 am

This is starting to make sense to me now. There are a lot of people like me who are content to sit on old desktops running Windows XP (I think it’s pretty fast, really) but Microsoft wants consumers to move forward to Windows 8 and is probably encouraging B&N to do the same with their apps. Push Nook for Win8, drop Nook for PC!

That said I love B&N and really like Microsoft much more than I used to but I can’t afford to keep up with their new stuff. Fortunately I could afford a nook. It will be interesting to see what they do with the nook once they form some kind of partnership in the future. I’m sure it will be a great tablet and reader.

wordwan June 27, 2013 um 2:37 pm

I don’t know a lot about a lot of this stuff. I’ve mostly been focusing on Amazon, because they seem to lead the charge on all this ebook stuff–which I’m not keen on.

Is that the thing? Is Barnes and Noble gonna go bankrupt? And Microsoft step in?

I am SO not clear on what Barnes and Noble is about. They 'feel' like a traditional publisher, to me. Moving slowly through the new forest.


Thomas June 27, 2013 um 4:40 pm

It could just be that B&N thinks all people want to read on tablets, and Win 8 is made for tablets. I’m not sure why you would buy a $500 to $1000 Win 8 tablet to do the job of a $100 Android tablet, though.

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