Struggling e-book-tailer Barnes & Noble is turning to Samsung for help: the two companies announced Thursday they're partnering to bring a co-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook to market by the end of the summer.
The partnership would see B&N load a custom version of its Nook software onto one of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 4 tablets, allowing B&N to benefit from the Galaxy Tab 4's popularity and versatility. The new co-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook will be based on Samsung's entry-level 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4, and the companies expect it to be available in the U.S. in early August. It will be sold alongside B&N's existing Nook e-readers at the bookseller's nearly 700 U.S. locations, not replace them.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablets, which run Android OS, range from 7- to 10.1-inch models, and the Galaxy Tab 4 -- the fourth and most recent generation in the Galaxy Tab family -- includes several budget-priced fourth-generation models with different screen sizes, all of which share the same internal 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of memory. The companies didn't say whether versions based on the larger screen Galaxy Tabs were under consideration.
The move appears to signal the end of B&N's hand in the Nook hardware side of the business: CEO Michael P. Huseby said that the company will still sell its Nook GlowLight as well as provide support to existing Nook owners, but he called the Samsung partnership "a major milestone in Barnes & Noble’s efforts to rationalize the NOOK business," noting it would "reduce [B&N's] exposure" to the costly hardware production side of its Nook tablet business.
Nook sales have been off for some time: in B&N's third quarter fiscal report, the company said its Nook business dropped 50.4 percent revenue-wise, with a 58.2 percent fall in device sales year-on-year and digital revenue off 26.5 percent due to the decline in Nook unit sales. The company's fiscal 2014 year-end earnings are due on June 25.