Does Barnes & Noble Need Help from Google?

Though Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) is competing with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) on a number of fronts, the bookseller is acknowledging it needs the tech giant’s help to expand the reach of its own products. In a move seen as a positive development for B & N, the company added Google Play to its Nook tablets. The app store by Google allows users to get the content they sought but were denied in previous Nooks.

Barnes & Noble has been seeking a way to get past its poor showing in the last holiday season and acknowledges that the limitations of Nook were a part of that performance. CEO William Lynch told the New York Times “the No. 1 reason for nonbuyers in the tablet market, as it related to Nook, was the lack of breadth and apps.”

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Adding Google Play to its list of features means big things for Nook users. The tablets will have the capabilities of almost every advanced Android-operating phone. You’ll be able to add the Kindle app (Nook’s direct e-reader competitor), while you’ll be able to access HBO Go and other popular products today’s tablet users demand. Even though some could question the allowance of Kindle, Barnes & Noble hopes the move will bring in more customers than it loses from such moves…

Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablets compete with the Google Nexus line as well as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindles, which do not run Google Play but have many more possibilities than previous Nook offerings. Tablets of all kinds are selling like never before. In this year’s first quarter, sales rose 142 percent compared to Q1 2012. Android tablets nearly doubled that monstrous increase, while laptops and desktop computers fell dramatically.

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In other words, for a company like Barnes & Noble, there was little choice but to shake things up and add Google Play to the mix. After several years of disappointing figures, Barnes & Noble stock has showed tremendous life in 2013, outpacing the S&P 500 by over 10 percent. While the move to add Google Play could symbolize a retreat for many observers, it’s the least Barnes & Noble can do.

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