Last week, Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) made a seemingly small announcement that made a huge difference to its customers. The announcement was that the Nook will now allow access to the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play store. What it really means is that the Nook is now an almost fully formed Android tablet. That’s going to be huge for Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS).
Read any Nook, Kindle, and Nexus comparison and you’ll see something like this: “The problem with the Nook HD’s locked-down operating system is that it does not enable installations of applications that are not downloaded from Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS)’s marketplace/store.” What you won’t see is list of shortfalls in the technology itself. Engadget’s review of the Nook HD+ stated, “From a hardware perspective… it’s pretty tough to argue with a 1,920 x 1,280 display on a $269 / $299 device.” The new expanded availability of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play may just push tablet buyers over the edge.
Why Barnes & Noble opened up
There is absolutely no surprise in hearing that tablets are on the rise. Recent reports have highlighted the fall in PC sales over the last year, and much of that market is shifting to tablets and smartphones. With Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) pushing its Windows 8 operating system, the world is quickly filling up with productive tablets, which could realistically offer a replacement for laptop owners.
Enter the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play store. Play offers Android owners a seemingly unending range of programs to run on their tablets, including productivity offerings from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). By opening up the entire store to Nook HD users, Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) turned the tablet into a productive piece of hardware. That means that it can now compete on the same field as the Surface and the other Android tablets.
What it means for Barnes & Noble
That, in turn, is going to help Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) get the Nook division firing on all cylinders before it spins it off into a new company. As I — along with most investors — have been harping on for a while now, the Nook spin-off is the best thing Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) can do right now. Sales of the Nook dropped 26% in the company’s last announced quarter, and investors promptly ran for the hills.