Microsoft (MS) and Barnes & Noble (B&N) have been involved in a patent dispute for the last year. MS went after B&N (and others) , saying publicly unspecified patents of theirs were being infringed upon by the Android operating system. Everyone seems to have paid up, with B&N being the last holdout.
Well, it seems that this morning, MS & B&N have announced that that’s all water under the bridge, and not only that, but B&N will be spinning off their digital books and college books business into a new company (as yet unnamed and simply referred to as “Newco”), with MS making a $300 million US investment into Newco. B&N will hold 82.4% stake with MS bringing up the other 17.6%. Newco will be a subsidiary of B&N.
Premarket trading saw shares of B&N nearly double, adding $10.82 and going to $24.50. MS shed $0.12 to go to $31.86.
What does that mean for Windows users? Look for a Nook reader application in Windows 8 certainly. Could a MS e-reader device be in the cards? Officially, MS’s position on that has been “no” in the past; this could change that. Whether it is a new Nook or a completely new device is probably yet to be seen.
Now, everyone else is talking up the e-reading possibilities, but as a state university employee for my day job, I’m more intrigued by the inclusion on the college book business. Remember when earlier this year, Apple make an announcement about getting into the textbook-on-iPad business? I’m thinking that this move means that both MS and B&N take this seriously. The textbooks industry is HUGE, and publishers and retailers would like nothing more than to cut out the used textbook market. Electronic textbooks is probably their holy grail in that regard, especially in device-specific format or tagged with DRM.