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Microsoft unloads $300m on Android hardware? Surely not

By PETER WHITE

Published: 8 May, 2012

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Confused? We certainly are, about just why Microsoft spent $300 million investing in the Barnes and Noble new company which holds all the Nook e-reader assets. Why would it invest in a business built around Android, an operating system it is trying to severely disadvantage, by chasing its proponents with bogus claims that it infringes Microsoft intellectual property. That's like saying I stole your laptop and then paying me to use it.

So we figured that the real story is like an iceberg, 90% of it is under the water, and will come out over time.

The big fish here for Microsoft is to tap into all those books that Barnes and Noble has in its bookstore, that way it has content, in the same way that Apple and it's iBookstore, can content. But while the public statement is that Microsoft devices will have an App for reading those books, the real win for Microsoft would be to turn the Nook into a Windows 8 or Windows WP7 based device.

No-one is saying that the Nook will come out with a Windows variant, but why wouldn't it? Ereaders use completely different screen technologies from laptops and tablets, and as a result while an iPad will work for ten hours, because it's screen uses a backlight, the Nook can go for two months on one charge.

And separate to that the Nook Tablet is selling, and it uses a conventional LCD display, so Microsoft could, if it was clever, turn a pointless chase for IPR royalties into a real tablet win, hence why it may think stumping up $300 million was worthwhile.

If, as the press release suggest, the money is so that the Nook company has enough cash to pay Microsoft royalties, it's a false investment, and if it's so that the Nook can rapidly encompass Europe and the Far East with a downloaded App, it is similarly false. People just don't read books on Windows devices, so an e-reader HAS to come along. Watch this space for a Windows Nook of some description.

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