A few days ago The Verge posted a story about how Nook HD and HD+ tablets are suddenly able to acquire not just apps, but also eContent from Google Play. It was kind of strange that B&N would take this step because, after all, the Google Play content store is a direct competitor to B&N’s own content store.
It doesn’t bode well, though, for the HD tablet owners because, with the lackluster (some would say disastrous) sales on the Nook tablets, opening them up like this would be a very good sign of imminent abandonment.
Today Ars Technica is reporting that Microsoft is interested in buying the Nook property for a billion dollars.
Since Android is a competing mobile OS to Windows RT, Windows 8, and Windows Phone, I could easily see the Android versions of the Nook HD and HD+ going full Android native and losing most, if not all, B&N support. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were an “update” that set the Nook up with, say, CyanogenMod or similar, and leaves the user with an Android tablet with a pre-installed Nook app.
My theory? The big M isn’t seeing the hottest sales in Windows RT tablets, but Redmond would really like to believe in that brand and that operating system. Steve Ballmer called the Metro interface and Windows 8 a “bet the company” innovation. I could easily envision relatively inexpensive tablet readers based on Windows RT with ties to B&N. RT runs on ARM processors which power quite a few of the tablets out there already, so the software and hardware architecture is already in place. That’s pure speculation, but I think it makes sense.
Or, finally, B&N could split the line, retain the eInk devices and sell the tablet stuff to Microsoft.
Either way, we might be seeing the end of the Nook brand of eReaders as we know them.