NOOK tablet refresh this year as B&N outsources

Chris Davies - Feb 26, 2014, 9:29 am CST
NOOK tablet refresh this year as B&N outsources

Barnes & Noble will launch a new NOOK color tablet later in 2014, the company has confirmed, after losses from the division “narrowed significantly” in the last financial quarter thanks to ceasing development and ramping down manufacturing. Nonetheless, the division – covering NOOK hardware, digital content sales, and accessories – was still down more than half year-on-year, with revenues of $157m, and B&N will look to third-party hardware manufacturers to develop the new NOOK model.

“NOOK losses narrowed significantly as we achieved our objective of selling through much of our pre-holiday device inventory, while managing promotions to optimize sales” Barnes & Noble said today in its financial year 2014 Q3 statement. The company had already warned of a droop in sales over the 2013 holidays, and today confirmed that they were down over 58-percent year-on-year, from a combination of lower volume and lower prices.

In many ways that was B&N’s goal, however, working through previous stock of tablets and only manufacturing enough to use up components that had already been bought.

The future plan is to shift responsibility for NOOK development externally, something B&N signaled would be the case in mid-2013. The fruits of those efforts will land later this year.

“The Company is actively engaged in discussions with several world-class hardware partners related to device development as well as content packaging and distribution” B&N said in its report. “As a result, we plan to launch a new NOOK color device in early fiscal 2015.”

Exactly what that tablet will look like – and who will eventually construct it – are unclear at this stage. Earlier this month, reports suggested B&N had significantly trimmed its hardware development division, something the company now says may involve further job losses.

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