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Barnes & Noble (s BKS) is partnering with One Laptop Per Child, the nonprofit that aims to provide kids in developing countries with cheap laptops, to preload a new Nook App for Kids on OLPC’s XO tablets.
Barnes & Noble has a Nook Kids’ app for iPad (s AAPL) but that app has not been updated in over two years. The Nook Kids’ app that will be preloaded on the XO tablets is newly designed, specifically for OLPC. And it’s significant that Barnes & Noble is making the app available first to a third-party manufacturer rather than rolling it out for its own Nook tablets. The company struck a similar partnership earlier this summer, when it announced it would preload a Nook Kids’ app on Fuhu’s nabi tablets.
“By partnering with One Laptop per Child, we are strengthening our commitment to make Nook content available to new and existing customers across a broad range of platforms and devices,” Mike Saturnia, VP and GM of Nook sales and business development, said in a statement.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook business has had a tumultuous year: Nook revenues fell 20 percent in the most recent quarter, and future Nook tablet strategy is unclear. Barnes & Noble had said this summer that it would stop manufacturing Nook tablets in-house and would instead co-brand them with third-party manufacturers, before reversing course and saying it would continue to develop the tablets. The partnership with OLPC, however, suggests another possible direction for the company: Creating reading apps for other platforms before its own.
OLPC’s Android (s GOOG) XO tablet isn’t designed for the same audience as OLPC’s laptops: The tablet is only available in the U.S., and it costs $150. It’s sold at Amazon (s AMZN), Target (s TGT), Toys ‘R’ Us and Walmart (s WMT). OLPC uses the sales of the tablet to benefit its international mission.