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 W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.