Will Upgrade to Touch Screen Help Kobo Tackle Bigger eReader Market Share?
As reported by the L.A. Times, Kobo announced a Touch edition of their eReader device--a touch screen which allows users to tap and swipe to turn pages. According to Michael Serbinis, Chief Executive of Kobo, "We're gunning for Amazon...We now have just under 4 million users in over 100 countries. We're No. 1 in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And we've essentially pioneered the affordable e-reader. That brings us to touch technology. We think this is a compelling experience — not really matched on the market right now."
The Kobo has quite a ways to go to make a dent in Amazon's market share. For Q4 2010, the Kindle commanded over 41% of the worldwide eReader sales, followed by Pandigital, the Barnes and Noble Nook and in fourth place, Sony. In the U.S. market, Kobo is tied for third place in a race that is dominated by the Kindle and the Nook.
There are a number of other smaller players competing in the ereader market, such as the Aluratek Libre, but despite the Kindle usually eliciting some adverse reactions by reviewers doing eReader comparisions it definitely has a stronghold on market share. Indeed, the very factor that generates negative commentary in regard to the Kindle, i.e. the closed content aspect of the device, is the very factor that was leveraged to create its dominance.
As Kobo battles it out with Kindle, Nook, et al., the eReader race may well be won by tablet devices. A recent article at Huffington Post suggested that the popularity of the iPad and other tablets portends the demise of the eReader. No wonder that, as with Kobo's Touch Edition, eReader devices are increasingly incorporating tablet-type functionality to stay competitive. In fact, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos confirmed that they are planning to release a Amazon-branded multipurpose tablet device to compete with the iPad in the near future.Continued on the next page