Can Kobo compete with iPad and Kindle?(Read article summary)
Kobo is launching a new tablet and e-reader in an attempt to wrest the market away from Amazon and Apple, both of which will probably release new tablets soon.
Toronto-based Kobo announced Thursday it is launching a new tablet and e-reader in the coming months as it seeks to expand its US market share and compete with Amazon and Apple, both of which are expected to unveil new tablets soon.
Though Koboâ€™s US market share in the e-book segment is currently in the â€ślow single digits,â€ť Kobo CEO Mike Serbenis said itâ€™s aiming to capture more than 20 percent of US market share â€“ and even more of the global market.
â€śOur overall objective is to be No. 1 in the world,â€ť Serbenis told Reuters in an interview. â€śThat may sound preposterous today, but it sounded a lot more preposterous two and a half years ago when we first started. We have proven that we can be No. 1, as we are here in Canada or in France. It is going to take some time, but we are in this for the long haul.â€ť
In its battle for the US and the world, Kobo recently announced its weapons.
First up is the Kobo Arc, a 7-inch Android-based device with a high-def display and front-facing camera. The Arc will be available in November and will retail for $199 (8 gigabyte) and $249 (16 gigabyte).
Kobo is also launching the Kobo Mini, a pocket-sized 5-inch device with e-ink touchscreen, micro USB, and 2 gigabytes of storage. Available in October, the Mini is priced to match Amazonâ€™s least expensive Kindle, at $79.
The Kobo Glo is â€śan improved version of its flagship e-reader,â€ť writes Reuters, and features a 6-inch e-ink touchscreen, adjustable front light, and 2 gigabytes of storage. Itâ€™s priced at $130 and will also hit shelves in October, says Kobo.
Last week Kobo announced a new partnership with the American Booksellers Association whereby ABA members, including many indie bookstores, can sell Kobo devices and e-books. This partnership replaces Koboâ€™s alliance with the now-bankrupt Borders Inc. and illustrates Koboâ€™s strategy for moving into new markets.
â€śWhile Apple and Amazon use their online heft to sell their products and huge amounts of multimedia content, Koboâ€™s rapid growth has been built by forming partnerships with local retailers in different countries, where it has focused on bibliophiles,â€ť writes Reuters. â€śUnlike its bigger rivals, Kobo positions itself as the local option for users in every market in which it operates, by partnering with local bookstores that often market the device as their very own reading platform.â€ť
And indeed, Kobo is marketing itself as the book-loverâ€™s e-reader. â€śThere are players in the market â€“ Amazon being one of them â€“ that have Apple envy and they are going after this general purpose tablet market,â€ť Kobo CEO Serbenis told Reuters. â€śWe remain focused on the book lover and are really making a bet on the book lover. It is certainly the road less traveled, but what we have proven having just crossed over 10 million readers across the world in a matter of 32 months is that we have a great solution for those book lovers.â€ť
Weâ€™re eager to track Koboâ€™s progress in the American tablet wars and gauge whether it really is the â€śbook lover's e-reader.â€ť Stay tuned.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.