Microsoft is trying to purchase the digital ecosystem of Nook Media LLC for $1 billion, according to a TechCrunch report. Citing obtained internal documents, the report says that the Redmond clan wants to take full control of the Barnes & Noble subsidiary’s digital library of e-books, movies, comic books and the like. Microsoft already invested $300 million into Nook Media in April 2012, but now it may be willing to buy the whole thing.
The report also claims that Nook Media will be shutting down its tablet business by the end of the fiscal year 2014. Nook e-readers are said to be living on, but the days of Android-based hardware like the Nook HD and Nook HD+ may soon be coming to an end.
The reported documents say that Barnes & Noble will instead transition Nook’s content onto “third-party partner” devices, which somewhat lines up with comments made by CEO William Lynch this past Feburary. Whether or not “third-party partner” just means Microsoft and its Windows 8 machines isn’t certain, but the documents reportedly say that these devices would be introduced sometime next year.
Both Barnes & Noble and Microsoft declined TechnologyGuide’s request for comment on the report.
If the report holds true, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising. Barnes & Noble has been open about the struggles of Nook hardware in recent quarters, and past reports have hinted that the company is looking to focus more on licensing digital content and less on making tablets itself. Last February, the company reported a 26% year-over-year revenue loss in its Nook division, but also noted a 6.6% yearly increase in digital content sales.
The report says that the $1 billion price tag would represent a substantial decrease from the $1.8 billion value of Nook Media that was reported in January after publishing giant Pearson invested $85 million in the subsidiary. It further states that Barnes & Noble as a whole is valued at $1.6 billion.
Tablets like the 7-inch Nook HD and 9-inch Nook HD+ have generally been well-received by critics and owners alike, but have seen small returns and stiff challenge from an increasingly crowded tablet arena. The slates recently received a much-needed software boost with the addition of the Google Play store, and are currently being sold at lower prices than most of their competition. The report states that there are more than 7 million active subscribers of Nook tablets and e-readers right now, but it sounds like a good chunk of those users may need to look for new kinds of devices in just a year’s time.