Nook To Offer In-App Purchases “By The First Half Of April” Through Fortumo Partnership

The Barnes & Noble Nook isn’t doing amazingly well by most accounts, including a recently introduced giveaway program from the company itself that isn’t quite (but sure resembles) a fire sale. Now, B&N has made an announcement that is clearly designed to prop up developer interest in the platform, with the introduction of a feature that brings it up-to-speed with others: in-app purchases.

In-app purchases aren’t coming to Nook right away; they’ll be rolling out gradually over the next few weeks and months, with availability beginning in April, thanks to a new partnership with mobile payments company Fortumo. Fortumo will be providing the software tools and resources needed to build in the in-app purchases, as well as a dashboard where developers can track their progress.

It’s about time, too. In-app purchases have been available on iOS and Android for years now, and in fact have risen to become one of the most important revenue sources for developers on those platforms. Amazon, the Nook’s chief direct rival, took the beta label off of its own in-app purchase system back in April 2012. That brought Kindle Fire and Fire HD developers the chance to implement the popular revenue generating option, so the Nook HD, HD+, Nook Color and Nook Tablet are now a year behind their biggest competition.

Nook’s implementation through Fortumo will be one-click, the company says in its official release. “In-app purchasing makes it possible for developers to ensure the customer only pays when they absolutely love the app,” said Rain Rannu, Co-Founder and CEO of Fortumo in the announcement. “This has proven to be a compelling value proposition for customers and a very successful strategy for developers.”

Nook needs this to be a draw for both developers and consumers, which is why it’s promoting the feature now before it’s fully baked. Nook sales dropped significantly last quarter, contributing to a $6.1 million quarterly loss. Digital content sales were up, however, and Barnes & Noble said that it remained fully committed to Nook hardware. In-app purchases are a good way to both capitalize on and hopefully increase digital goods sales, while making Nook hardware more attractive to consumers who are now used to the freemium model of content delivery. But it’s a late move, and one that brings the Nook only to parity with other, more popular platforms.

A key ingredient will be the revenue agreement B&N works out with developers for in-app purchases. It hasn’t shared that info on its site or in the announcement, but we’ve reached out directly to learn more, and will update if they provide additional information.

Update: Nook developers will get 70 percent, pretty much par for the course:

Developers will receive  70% revenue share from IAP transactions within their apps.  This is standard across all platforms.

– Claudia Romanini, Vice President, NOOK Apps