Barnes & Noble is preparing to launch its first new tablet since 2012. In its latest financial report, company officials say B&N is in discussions with hardware partners to develop a new color NOOK device that’ll launch in early fiscal 2015.
That doesn’t mean you’ll have to wait until next year to see a next-gen NOOK tablet though. B&N’s fiscal year ends on April 27th, 2014 — so we could see the company’s new tablet any time after that.
Aside from the fact that the new device will have a color screen, B&N isn’t saying much about its new hardware. But the company is facing some serious challenges.
Revenue from the NOOK device and content division during the most recent fiscal quarter was down 50.4 percent from the same period last year.
If there’s a bright spot, it’s that revenue from digital content didn’t fall nearly as much as revenue from device sales. NOOK hardware sales dropped 58.2 percent to $100 million, while content sales fell just 26.5 percent to $57 million.
In other words, people aren’t buying NOOK eReaders or tablets as much as they were a year ago — but there still seem to be some people buying books and other digital media for their existing devices (or to read using the NOOK apps for Android, iOS, Windows, or other platforms).
Can new hardware help turn things around? It’s hard to say for certain. But the NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets launched in late 2012 are starting to look dated. They have excellent displays, and attractive price tags. But they’re bogged down by relatively slow processors when compared with newer budget tablets from Google, Amazon, and others.