Every once in a while something happens in the technology space that makes perfect sense. This week we get the news that Microsoft and Barnes & Noble have settled their differences and formed an alliance that will boost both companys' presence in the e-reader market. Sure, it is a bit of a gamble, but it also likely the best tablet-device strategy for both.
It is good strategy for Microsoft because they need a way to get Windows 8 into as many devices and consumers' hands as possible. An inexpensive e-reader is the most efficient way to do this. For Barnes & Noble, they need a device that puts their ecosystem in front of more consumers. It is the strategy Amazon has used so successfully with their Kindle Fire devices.
Note: Neither company has confirmed that there is or will be a Windows 8 e-reader, but I am making the assumption that an investment of $300 million means something is in the works.
When you get down to the inexpensive e-reader level, a tablet is no longer a piece of tech hardware; it is merely an appliance that either does what it says it does or it doesn't. It becomes a value proposition for the consumer -- the operating system, the chips inside, the digitizer, etc. become meaningless to the choice of what device to buy. The price, the applications, and the perceived value drive the decision-making process.
Samsung and Apple can fight over the high-end tablet market with their Galaxy Tabs and iPads; Microsoft has decided to partner with Barnes & Noble to fight over the inexpensive e-reader market with Amazon. I think it is a good move for Microsoft and its soon-to-be-released Windows 8 platform. Windows 8 may not end up on my desktop, but it could very well end up on my e-reader.
Good news for Windows 8?
What is your view of this announcement of Microsoft and Barnes & Noble? Does this change your thinking about the overall success of Windows 8? Do you think a Windows 8 e-reader can compete with Amazon's line of Kindle devices?
Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.