FORTUNE -- Ask Stephane Maes, Barnes and Noble VP of Product, why holiday sales of its Nook tablets were weaker than expected, and he'll tell you it wasn't due to lack of interest. When shoppers looked at the Nook HD, one of the first things they asked was whether apps bought for their Android phones would also work on the tablet. "When the answer was 'no,' we had people walk away," he tells Fortune.
Although Barnes & Noble (BKS) does not disclose how many Nook tablets and e-readers it has sold, the book chain has said sales have not met expectations. Overall revenues for the Nook segment during Barnes & Noble's most recent quarter were $316 million, a significant 26% plunge compared with the same period the year prior. Given the company's announcement last January that it would shutter roughly one-third of its retail stores, bringing the total number of locations to 500 or less, it's clear Barnes & Noble is still struggling to find its footing in its ongoing digital transition.
"The more consumption-based tablets like ourselves and Kindle had some challenges because of that," explains Maes. "People were looking for the more full, multipurpose tablet that had everything and has that ecosystem that's spread between phones and tablets."
Which is why this week, Barnes and Noble is rolling out a major software update that signals a major shift in strategy. Now, Nook tablets will have access to Google's (GOOG) online store, Google Play, which includes 700,000 apps, as well as digital books, movies, music, and magazines. To be clear, this means Nook tablet owners will be able to buy and read e-books from Google Play just as easily as they can buy books from Barnes & Noble itself.
In essence, that makes the Nook a truly full-fledged Android tablet, but it also introduces a possible challenge for Barnes & Noble, which is seeing continued growth in digital content sales, an area that includes e-books. If Nook owners can just as easily buy e-books via Google Play now, won't that hurt Barnes & Noble's bottom line even further?
"Will we lose some content sales? Of course," Maes admits. "But we also believe we will also gain a lot of content sales at the same time because we are world-class merchandisers and curators of content. There were a lot of people who didn't want to enter our ecosystem before ... Now, all that has changed."
The iPad's usage share in North America rose in March for the first time since December.
FORTUNE -- Despite increased competition from tablets running Google (GOOG) Android, the presence of Apple's (AAPL) iPad in the Chitika online ad network rose in March to 81.9%, up from 80.5% in February.
According to the report Chitika issued Thursday, the rest of the tablets are all distant also-rans.
In the same one-month time period, it saw the presence of MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 18, 2013 2:57 PM ET
Japan has some of the fastest internet connections in the world, but physical media such as books and DVDs still remain popular.
By Michael Fitzpatrick
FORTUNE -- Despite Japan's "default-setting-for-the future" status, coined by Sci-fi writer William Gibson, time on this rocky archipelago appears to be headed backwards. Kerosene is replacing nuclear energy; deflation, not inflation, is still rife; and, publishers are clinging energetically to print when, in neighboring South Korea, MOREFeb 11, 2013 2:48 PM ET
For what it's worth, iPad tweets outnumbered Kindle 7:1, Google Nexus 18:1, Surface 50:1
FORTUNE -- I can't vouch for the accuracy of the information in this chart. The nominal source -- A.X. Ian -- describes himself on Twitter and other venues as "Purveyor of pseudo-random ideas. Information massage therapist. Always prolific, seldom profound."
But the ratios square with other signs we've been seeing -- including store traffic -- and bode better MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 26, 2012 5:47 PM ET
When you're selling a device at cost you can't really make it up in volume
FORTUNE -- From the start, Amazon's (AMZN) plan for the Kindle family of tablets and e-readers was to sell a compelling device at or below cost that would direct customers to Amazon's online stores.
"We want to make money when people use our devices," CEO Jeff Bezos often says, in a remark widely seen as directed at MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 27, 2012 8:43 AM ET
A new generation of kids' tablets will go head-to-head this holiday season, but will children go for them instead of their parents' iPads and Kindles?
By Omar Akhtar, reporter
FORTUNE -- All of those parents who'd rather not let their kid toy around with their iPad will have plenty of cheaper, kid-friendly tablets to purchase as stand-ins this holiday shopping season.
This year, a new generation of children's tablets will try to MORESep 20, 2012 1:21 PM ET
The Kindle-as-service model means that Google and Apple should watch out
By Don Sears, contributor
Last week, Amazon brought it loud and proud.
With a full slew of new tablets, e-readers and consumer-minded features, Amazon (AMZN) is in full WWE-style smack-down mode. The online commerce overlords are screaming for your wallet, pointing directly at the competition and establishing another foothold in a young market.
At its latest product announcements in Santa Monica last MORESep 12, 2012 12:43 PM ET
Points to meetings between government lawyers and at least 14 Amazon employees
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) opened a new front in its attack on the Justice Department's e-book antitrust suit, which accuses the company of conspiring with five publishers to raise the price of electronic books.
The DOJ, Apple charges, colluded with Amazon (AMZN) to bring the suit in the first place.
"Amazon was the driving force behind the Government's investigation," Apple claimed MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 16, 2012 8:52 AM ET
Sen. Chuck Schumer (Dem., NY) is the latest to suggest that Obama's DOJ got this one wrong
FORTUNE -- From the day it was filed there seemed something ill-conceived about the Justice Department's antitrust suit against Apple (AAPL) and five of the six major book publishers.
The optics, as political operatives like to say, were wrong. Here was the government helping Amazon (AMZN) regain monopoly control of the e-book market by attacking MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 19, 2012 6:15 AM ET
Sales of the Kindle e-readers have apparently also fallen off a cliff
FORTUNE -- Thursday was bad-news day for Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle line of tablets and e-readers.
IDC released first quarter tablet sales data that had Kindle Fire shipments falling from 4.8 million in the Christmas quarter to less than 750,000 units last quarter. "Kindle Fire Shipments Fizzle" was the headline on AllThingsD.
E Ink Holdings, the sole supplier of black-and-white screens for MORE
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