#Barnes & Noble

Look, you should wake up worried, terrified every morning. But don’t be worried about our competitors, because they’re never going to send us any money anyway. Let’s be worried about our customers and stay heads-down focused.
Jeff Bezos, just after the burst of the Internet bubble, to his then 150 employees facing increased competition from Barnes & Noble with its 30,000 employees.  

Susan Berfield:

The Nook looked good, worked well, and sold better than Barnes & Noble expected. “There was certainly a period when Nook was a real device leader,” says Mike Shatzkin, head of Idea Logical, a consulting firm. “But it was brief.” Three months after Lynch introduced the Nook to an audience for the first time, Steve Jobs held up the iPad.

Sometimes timing is everything.

Leslie Kaufman of NYT looking at the failure of the Nook:

But while tablet sales exploded over the Christmas season, Barnes & Noble was not a beneficiary. Buyers preferred Apple devices by a long mile but then went on to buy Samsung, Amazon and Google products before those of Barnes & Noble, according to market analysis by Forrester Research.

The paragraph just before this one talks about the rave reviews the new Nook received as it went on sale. It’s a solid reminder that sometimes being good just isn’t enough.

Jeffrey Trachtenberg for WSJ:

"In 10 years we’ll have 450 to 500 stores," said Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble’s retail group, in an interview last week. The company operated 689 retail stores as of Jan. 23, along with a separate chain of 674 college stores.

It’s sort of crazy how poorly many once-powerful retail chains are doing — while Apple can’t build their stores fast enough. Just look at that chart in the story.

While Amazon clearly controls the e-reader space, Barnes & Noble continues to beat them to the punch on key technologies. First, it was an Android-based color tablet. Then it was the front-lit e-ink reader.

Amazon has to react, probably faster than they’d like — they’re pushing out a new Kindle not even a year after the last one was released.

Update: As Soroush Khanlou points out, B&N did the touch e-ink reader first as well.

A few quick thoughts:

1) Barnes & Noble makes fun of the Kindle Fire, noting that it looks like a BlackBerry PlayBook — completely fair and true. The Nook Tablet clearly looks nicer. 

2) But… the Kindle Fire is still at the magical $199 price point, while the Nook Tablet is at $249. The fact that Barnes & Noble wouldn’t match the $199 price shows you just how insanely low that is — and how aggressive Amazon is willing to be to win. 

3) The $50 price gap may not seem like a huge difference but remember that the Nook Tablet also doesn’t have a little thing called Amazon.com and all its related properties.

4) The Nook Tablet specs sound great, but again, it’s $50 more and doesn’t have Amazon.com. Further, at $249, the tablet clearly isn’t going to be good enough to match the iPad. So Barnes & Noble may feel a bit squeezed. They’re not the cheapest and they’re not the best.