Microsoft Hooks onto Nook
Software Maker's $300 Million Deal Gives It a 17.6% Stake in Barnes & Noble Subsidiary
Microsoft continues to try to fill huge gaps in their business vs. highly entrenched competition (Apple, Amazon, Google) via alliances or acquisitions over the past 2 to 3 years. I guess the key question is, since most of the acquisitions or partnerships are with relatively weak players in the markets Microsoft hopes to penetrate, can Microsoft leverage their technology base to really step change their performance in these markets? The chart at the end highlights that they are usually starting from a very weak position.
"The tie-up with Barnes & Noble also furthers Microsoft's strategy to move beyond its Windows and Office software franchises and invest its growing cash pile in businesses—some $60 billion at the end of March—that it failed to capitalize on in recent years.
Those deals have yielded mixed results. Last year, for example, Microsoft agreed to supply the mobile operating system for smartphones sold by struggling Nokia Corp., but those products so far haven't gained a large foothold in the market. An Internet search partnership in 2009 with wounded Internet company Yahoo Inc. was designed to help Microsoft catch up to Google, though its Bing search engine hasn't gained much ground.
The software maker last year also bought Internet-calling service Skype for $8.5 billion after Google and Facebook showed early interest. That deal was the biggest acquisition in Microsoft's history and another whose payoff remains unclear.
Despite those efforts and years of acquisitions, Microsoft continues to generate more than 85% of its annual operating income from the Windows software and services, and its Office software suite.
By taking a minority stake in a new subsidiary that will market the Nook, Microsoft gains several footholds in e-reading. For starters, Barnes & Noble committed to creating a Nook e-reading app for Windows 8—a forthcoming Microsoft operating system that will be used in tablet-style hardware and PCs—and for smartphones powered by Microsoft software. The Nook, like Amazon's Kindle Fire, runs on Google's Android software."