Canadian e-reader manufacturer Kobo has launched its first product in South Africa, predicting it will challenge Amazon.com’s Kindle for dominance in SA by taking more than 50% of the market within the next 12 months.
Kobo has launched its first e-reader device in the country in partnership with Pick n Pay. The black-and-white e-ink Kobo Touch, which costs R995, will be available in 41 of the retailer’s stores at launch. Pick n Pay has signed a six-month exclusivity period with Kobo, which is owned by Japan’s Rakuten group.
Kobo executive vice-president for business development Todd Humphrey says the first device to be launched in SA is a touch-enabled e-reader with integrated Wi-Fi access — a cellular version is not available — that provides access to the company’s catalogue of 3m e-books, 1m of which are free to download. He claims this is a larger selection than what Amazon offers consumers on the Kindle.
The reader can store a thousand books on its internal memory, though an SD card can be inserted to provide expanded storage. A range of covers and other accessories are also available.
Kobo is working with local book publishers and already has more than a thousand Afrikaans-language e-books in its catalogue. Pick n Pay will take a portion of the value of e-book downloads on devices bought at its stores.
Humphrey says the South African e-reading market is still in its infancy. “We look at the [launch of Kobo] as the beginning of e-reading in this country.”
Kobo, originally called Shortcovers, was established by Canadian retailer Indigo Books & Music. It has more than 10m customers worldwide and 550 employees. It was acquired by Rakuten in January 2012 in a US$315m all-cash deal. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media