Barnes & Noble opening Nook platform to other tablet makers

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Barnes & Noble is opening its Nook e-reader platform to third-party electronics manufacturers, a move to limit overhead costs and reduce its losses in the competitive tablet segment.

Going forward, Barnes & Noble will team with not-yet-announced manufacturers to develop and distribute co-branded Nook color tablets. The bookseller also will continue to develop dedicated black-and-white Nook e-reader product lines like Simple Touch and Glowlight in-house, at the same time expanding its digital catalog by launching new Nook multimedia applications and growing its e-book library.

Barnes & Noble adds it will continue to sell its existing inventory of Nook HD and HD+ tablets throughout the 2013 holiday season.

Barnes & Noble kicked off its Nook e-reader line in 2009, and in late 2011 the company introduced the Android-based Nook Tablet, touting a wealth of e-books, mobile applications and HD video content in its bid to rival Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire as well as Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) market-leading iPad. The company has sold more than 10 million Nook tablets and e-readers to date.

Last month, Barnes & Noble introduced Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play support across the Nook HD and Nook HD+ suite, offering users access to more than 700,000 Android applications and games as well as millions of songs, movies and television programs. Nook owners were previously limited to downloading apps and content offered via the bookseller's own Nook Store, which boasts thousands of apps tailored expressly for Nook devices, all organized by subject area, alongside more than 3 million e-books.

Barnes & Noble reported fiscal fourth-quarter revenues of $1.3 billion, down 7.4 percent year-over-year. Its Nook Media segment, which includes the retailer's digital business (including devices, digital content and accessories), posted revenues of $108 million for the quarter and $776 million for the full year, decreasing 34 percent for the quarter and 16.8 percent from a year ago. Digital content sales increased 16.2 percent for the full year but slipped 8.9 percent during the fourth quarter.

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