Barnes & Noble Attempts to Stay Afloat

Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) announced the release of its upgraded Nook brand of e-book software for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone that incorporates features found in its Nook application for iPads.

The news follows its recent change in branding strategy when it decided to move from its Barnes & Noble branding to Nook as the name for its digital reading platform.

The current Nook upgrade for iPhones is loaded with features such as tools to customize color themes and a feature to modulate the screen settings for day and night reading.

Barnes & Noble also has an application for Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android, which uses Android 1.6 and offers the same features as incorporated in iPad. Both the Android and the current upgrade for iPhone include its LendMe feature that allows sharing of eligible e-books for up to 14 days with friends.

Barnes & Noble is following Amazon's strategy by naming its e-reader category as Nook -- both its reading device and software; just Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) has branded both the segments as Kindle.

Barnes & Noble, the 137-year-old company, recently announced that it is looking for strategic alternatives including putting itself up for sale.

"Sizable investments associated with the transition to digital books" and "risks to store profitability associated with the digital migration" were primary concerns, Goldman Sachs analyst Mathew Fassler told the Wall Street Journal. "We don't see compelling value in the business."

Even as Barnes & Noble's brick-and-mortar stores face stiff competition from digital books and Amazon, the current upgrade of its Nook application could be a sign of it attempting to stay alive as it sees potential in the smartphone market.

While Barnes & Noble struggles with its business model its competitor Amazon has been able to handle the digital book onslaught much more deftly. Amazon has acted more as a technology company than a bookstore, using its competitive advantage derived from its cutting-edge technology like one-click feature that triggers a complete transaction to its own payment system, and even cloud competing.

However Barnes & Noble was not able to leverage on this and remained focused on books business while Amazon moved on to selling other products as well. While Amazon continues to create new products around its content, Barnes & Noble continues to look for strategic partners.

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