Sunday, October 7, 2012

NOOK Media LLC—The Ill-Begotten or Isogamy for the Rest of Us
Who wants to buy a bookstore? You remember what a bookstore is; a place you enter to purchase handheld content items, formerly known as "books!" Durable, reusable, occasionally beautiful objects existing for several centuries of human history. Fortunately, bookstores haven't quite reached dinosaur status, but the last and largest of the giant thunder lizards, Barnes & Noble, has been thrashing mightily in this new climate of digital reading and publishing.

And since none of the fleeter mammals on the ePublishing planet were interested in coming close to Tyrannosaurus Nookus, the choice seemed to be death in a bricks and mortar tar pit, or an ungodly union with some other mighty being. This latter window of hope has arrived in the form of Brontosaurus Microsoftus, and thus, full-blown from the heads of old gods, NOOK Media LLC is born.

Forevermore, let this creature be known as a Barnes & Noble subsidiary in a strategic partnership with Microsoft. For a paltry dowry of $300 million, Microsoft acquires a 17.6% genetic equity stake. No mention of visitation rights for the child stated in its birth announcement.

NOOK Media LLC begins life with the burden of its DNA in the form of Windows 8, to be launched on October 29th, just in time for Halloween. The spin:

  • B&N Nook is a "leader in the emerging digital reading and digital education market," a provider of "world-class digital reading experiences." Does "world-class" refer to a multi-language reading experience? 

Even more impressively(?), "NOOK Media is a leader in developing the next generation of digital reading Windows 8 devices," How do you get to be a leader of anything on the day of your birth? And furthermore, there are as yet no Windows 8 devices, so I suppose we're speaking of the life of the unborn. Not a problem, I can accept that as the premise for a $300 million investment.

And Windows 8, where is it coming from? Its progenitor is the Windows Phone 7 Series, which replaced 9 generations of Windows Mobile Computing and quickly became Windows Phone 7 and then Windows Phone 7.5. The burning question, "Which version of Windows Phone do I have?", is the #1 How-to Basic at My answer, if you need to ask, better off slinking back into your cave until Spring arrives.

But so many people love their Windows phones. Our ever vigilant friends at Gartner report something between a 1% and 2% marketshare for WindowsPhone devices, and about three million sold over a 6-month period. For perspective, there were five million iPhone 5s sold in the first weekend they were available.

On the other hand, perhaps Apple's time has run out, and Google's, too. Obviously, the canny business minds at B&N and Microsoft have ample evidence of pent-up demand waiting to burst forth and purchase Windows Phone 8 devices. Maybe, but then what does this paragraph from Wikipedia's Windows Phone entry mean?

  • The low market share of Windows Phone might be explained by a study by Bernstein Research that concluded that consumers don’t want Windows Phones. The research points out: "The lack of consumer interest for Windows-based phones has been very consistent in marketing surveys we have carried out across the globe over the last several years." and that "The situation of Windows in mobile phones is now very unlikely to revert."

I'm reminded of the movie, "Rosemary's Baby," which was actually a book by Ira Levin that you could buy in bookstores. The poor actor sells his first-born to the devil in return for the starring role in a Broadway play, and his wife, Mia Farrow, gives birth to a little devil. I think this is every mother's worst fear. "What if my child turns out to be a little devil?"

In the case of NOOK Media LLC, I don't think there's anything to worry about, because this is the offspring of two fathers—two male gametes uniting to form a single zygote. Not to worry, this sort of thing happens. Back to Wikipedia:

  • Isogamy is the state of gametes from both sexes being the same size and shape, and given arbitrary designators for mating type. 

So there's hope, but what form this isogamous corporate being with arbitrary designators might assume is yet to be determined. If it becomes viral and threatens all of mankind, we'll be left with no alternative but to ask "will it blend?"

-Professor Walrus

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