Re: Takes MS's money then drops nook.
"Conspiracy theory, coincidence or the usual MS business practice ?"
None of those.
A traditional book retailer was never going to be able to develop its own hardware as a sustainable commercial offer - just because Amazon got the Kindle successfully to market, it was never going to work for B&N, because they don't have the digital expertise or scale of Amazon, and coming in afterwards with no real differentiation was never going to give them market share.
You can choose for yourselves whether this was a brave try that was ultimately unsuccessful (yet might have been), or whether B&N were simply the wrong company to try this, and moved too late into digital with inevitable consequences. I think the latter.
But you're right that one usual MS business practice is present, and that's the "two losers make one winner" maths that Ballmer seems to use. So just as they tried to and failed to be a Google with the failed aQuantive acquisition (and Bing hasn't made much noise in the search engine market), then they've tied up with the fast vanishing Nokia to be a player in mobile phones, here they're tying themselves to a failed ebook seller. If BB10 flops, then expect MS to bid for them. It's a pity Kodak have gone - MS could have bought them too.