Kobo announces new October devices

06.09.12 | Lisa Campbell - The Bookseller

Kobo has announced three new devices as it steps up the pressure to win market share from rival e-book retailer Amazon in the run-up to Christmas.
Two new e-readers will come from the Rakuten-owned company on 1st October, with a tablet device with two different capacities appearing in November.

The news comes after Barnes & Noble announced last week that it would partner with John Lewis, Blackwell’s, Foyles and Argos to sell two models of its Nook e-reader, the Touch Screen and the Glowlight, in October, and in anticipation of an announcement from Amazon in a press conference in Los Angeles later today (6th September) that it will launch further devices, including a tablet in the UK. The combined news means a flood of new e-reading hardware onto the market in time for Christmas.

Kobo’s new devices are the Kobo Glo, with a six-inch, e-ink, illuminated screen for night-time as well as day-time reading, which will sell for £99.99. The second new e-reader announced today is the Kobo Mini, with a small five-inch screen, which comes with interchangeable backs in different colours and is “fully customisable”. It will sell for £59.99. Sameer Hasan, director of program management for Kobo, said: “We believe that big things come in small packages—the Kobo Mini is easy to hold, portable and has beautiful attention to detail, targeting young, fashion-conscious stylish people.”
As for Kobo’s new tablet, the company will release the Kobo Arc nearer Christmas, most likely in November, with a seven-inch screen with a HD display which customers can use to access apps, play films and videogames, look at photos as well as read e-books. An 8G version of the device will sell for £159.99, while the 16G will sell for £189.99, posing a direct competition to Google with its Nexus 7 tablet and Apple’s iPad—the Nexus 7 costs £159 and its 16gb model is £199 while Apple’s new iPad costs £399.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet in the US costs $200 (£125).

Wayne White, executive vice-president and general manager of Kobo, told The Bookseller there would be “a lot of campaigning” around the launch of the new models, but declined to give more details on what the marketing and advertising strategy would involve.
Aware of stiff competition in the UK e-reader market this autumn, White said: “There is going to be competition in the market but we are well-placed to beat the competition with a much broader product selection and the good news is the Kobo in fantastic for book lovers.”
W H Smith will go first selling the Kobo family of products, honouring the company’s exclusivity arrangement with the retailer, but other outlets will follow. Independent booksellers will also be able to sell the new devices, with Kobo’s affiliation scheme with retailers beginning also in autumn and giving indies in the UK the ability to sell Kobo e-books through a light integration on their websites.
Jackie Wing, category director of digital and fiction at WH Smith, said: “We’re really pleased with the way customers have responded to the Kobo e-readers and accessories in our stores over the past year, and we’re delighted to be able to offer UK customers Kobo’s exciting new range of e-readers both in store and online later this autumn.”
Kobo currently sells e-readers Kobo Touch and Kobo Wireless and the tablet the Kobo Vox at several retailers in the UK, including Sainsbury’s, Asda, John Lewis and other electrical stores.