The last time Barnes & Noble had refreshed its tablet line up was in 2012. That seems like ages ago in the tech world, but the good news is that replacements are incoming. The bookseller has confirmed they intend to launch the new Nook range in financial year 2015. This should not be confused with the corresponding calendar year given B&N’s financial year comes to an end on April 27, 2014. As such, the new Nook should be launched by the end of 2014.
However, the one aspect that most will be keenly watching is whether the Nook will be enough to pull out of the mess that the company has landed itself in off late. To make matters worse, B&N had no new tablet to offer last year, leaving it to the 2012 model Nook devices to take the company’s fortunes forward. Current B&N boss Mike Huseby has blamed incompetence of the previous management team for the company’s current woes. Demand was misinterpreted so that the company ended up making more Nook devices. Apart from making all effort to offload these (prices were cut to appeal to more buyers), B&N produced enough of Nook devices to utilize all the excess components they had procured.
Further, with no new devices in 2013 and with the old Nooks already starting to show its age in the face of more powerful new age devices, B&N has its task cut out with the new Nooks. It has also lost the cost advantage that it once had now that tablet prices have gone through the floor in recent times. The new range of Kindle or Nexus tablet devices offer the best combination of performance and price. Under the circumstances, it would be like starting from scratch for B&N.
What should be even more hurting for the bookseller is that it can’t have much solace from its sales report which is all bleeding red. While sales of hardware (including accessories) has dropped by 58.2 percent year-on-year, its content sales dropped by 26.5 percent. The only silver lining so far is the growth in demand for printed books which has come as a surprise to many.
“We have taken steps to reduce costs and device exposure, while focusing our efforts to reverse the content sales decline,” said Michael P. Huseby in the company’s Q3 financial year 2014 results. “We remain committed to delivering world-class reading experiences to our customers through our reading centric e-Ink and color reading devices. The Company is actively engaged in discussions with several world-class hardware partners related to device development as well as content packaging and distribution. As a result, we plan to launch a new NOOK color device in early fiscal 2015.”