While Kobo may be very much the underdog, it is hoping the release of four new e-readers will help it to gain some of Kindle’s market share.
Kobo has announced a quartet of brand new e-readers, including two android tablets.
Just before Amazon was due to announce updates to its ever-popular Kindle range in California, Kobo jumped in with its new releases.
Readers often get frustrated with e-readers because they cannot be read in the dark without an external light, unlike tablet computers which are back-lit. But Kobo has come up with the Glo, which is expected to cost £99.99. The Glo, as its name suggests, can be read in the dark as it is front-lit, which means you should be able to read a few chapters in bed without disturbing your other half.
The Kobo Glo will come with 2GB of memory, but there is the option to expand this capacity by using a micro SD card.
The Kobo Mini is a 5-inch e-reader without any such front light, but it will be very much aimed at the budget end of the market, costing just £59.99.
Both the Glo and the Mini are due to go on sale on October 1st.
At the other end of Kobo’s price point is its new tablet computer called the Arc, which will be released the following month. It’s a 7-inch Android 4.0 device which comes in two versions – either with 8GB of storage for £159.99 or 16GB for £189.99.
The 7-inch devices will come with impressive high-definition display screens, front-facing cameras and 1.5 gigahertz dual-core processors.
Owned by Rakuten and based in Toronto, Kobo has a big battle on its hands to gain market share from the giants of the technology world – Amazon, Apple and Google. Its Android tablet will be going up against Apple’s iPad which is widely considered the gold-standard of tablets and the American company is expected soon to unveil an iPad mini, which will be the same size as Kobo’s offerings.
But Kobo will be hoping its sales strategy will set it apart from its rivals. While Apple and Amazon sell huge amounts of multimedia content online, Kobo has formed partnerships with local retailers in different countries, including WH Smith in the UK, where it focuses on book lovers who still like visiting stores rather than shopping on the internet.
Kobo suffered a huge setback in America last year after its partner there, Borders, went bankrupt. But it has now announced it is working with the American Booksellers Association, which is made up of some 2,000 independent outlets.
And, setbacks aside, Kobo certainly cannot be described as being short on ambition.
Chief executive Mike Serbinis said: “Our overall objective is to be number one in the world. That may sound preposterous today, but it sounded a lot more preposterous two and a half years ago when we first started. We have proved that we can be number one as we are in Canada or in France.”
He conceded that Kobo’s ambitious targets could take “some time” but added: “We are in this for the long haul.”