Hot on the heels of its recent bookstore agreement with the American Booksellers Association, e-book retailer Kobo has released an upgraded suite of e-reading devices with new functionality and pricing, including the Kobo Arc, a new 7-inch multimedia tablet device starting at $200 that replaces the first Kobo tablet, the Kobo Vox. The new lineup of devices also includes the Kobo Glo, an e-ink device with built-in lighting, the 5-inch e-ink Kobo Mini for $80, and the Kobo Touch, an upgraded version of the original touch-screen e-ink device priced at $100.
The release of these new devices will continue to stoke the competition in the digital reader marketplace. The new Kobo Touch features upgraded software and will be available for sale in October. The Kobo Glo—in response to B&N’s Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight—will also go on sale in October for $130. And the Kobo Mini, which Kobo claims is the “smallest and lightest” e-reader on the market, has a 5-inch screen and will sell for $80 beginning in October.
Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis said, “Our focus has remained firmly on delivering a superior experience for booklovers around the world. With 11,000 booksellers and leading retail partners across five continents, we are bringing the new Kobo Family to booklovers everywhere.”
The highlight of the new lineup of devices is certainly the new Kobo Arc tablet, a 7-inch multimedia tablet device that will replace the often clunky user experience of the Kobo Vox and sell for $200 (8 GB) and $250 for the 16 GB version, beginning in November. The new device offers a new user interface called Tapestries, according to Kobo executive v-p of business development Todd Humphrey. Humphrey said in an interview with PW that the new software will “bring content to the surface that is rally personalized to the user that is on that device at the moment.” Humphrey said Tapestries “allows for easier movement through the device, allows for greater discovery whether it is music or movies or books or web pages, the device does a lot of that heavy lifting for the consumer and provides a really interesting, unique experience.”
The new tablet features Android 4.0, an upgraded version of Android optimized for tablets, and offers access to the Google Play, the Google App and content store, and to about 600,000 apps. Kobo claims to have a global network of 11,000 booksellers around the world (including stores through its new agreement with ABA retailers) that will offer the devices for sale. Kobo also claims more than 10-million users in 190 countries, and says that it offers 3 million books across 60 different languages.
Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce firm that owns Kobo, said, “The launch of Kobo’s new family of eReading devices represents a bold step for both Kobo and Rakuten. This reinforces our commitment to expanding digital goods and e-commerce services to new markets around the globe through beautiful and exciting devices.”