Barnes & Noble, Amazon’s only legitimate competition in the eBook space, has announced its plans to spin off its NOOK and educational divisions into a new subsidiary, known tentatively as “Newco.” The book retailer will hold an 82.4% stake in the company, with the remaining 17.6% under the control of Microsoft, thanks to a $300 million investment. This strategic partnership also marks the end of a patent dispute between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft.
A Windows 8 NOOK app will be one of the first fruits of this joint venture, but the integration is rumored to go even deeper. The man spearheading this strategic partnership on the Microsoft side is none other than Andy Lees, who ran the company’s Windows Phone unit until he was mysteriously moved out of the role five months ago. There’s a very strong chance that the next NOOK reader might actually run Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8, rather than Android.
On a more lighthearted note, Brandon Watson, Microsoft’s former Director of Developer Experience for Windows Phone who recently moved over to Amazon to work on Kindle, humorously tweeted that “There are other, cheaper, ways to let someone know you are mad they left.”
With the NOOK now in Microsoft’s camp, it’ll be interesting to see if the Redmond software giant leverages the brand to help Windows 8 tablets compete against the Kindle Fire, which continues to burn brightly.