Books written by Ray Sullivan

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Kobo Launch Hi Def eReader

Kobo, the eReader and eBook company owned by Japanese company Rakuten, has announced it's launching a high definition eReader to compete with the Amazon Paperwhite eReader.  It's being pitched at about £30 more than the Paperwhite, so perhaps the word 'compete' is stretching the concept a little.  There is some speculation that it may be a better choice for 'coffee table' style eBooks and children's eBooks.

According to some reports Kobo is now firmly the number two seller of eReaders after Amazon and its Kindle range, but that may not be as remarkable as it might have been.  Since the launching of multiple tablets to challenge the iPad range in the last two years the meteoric rise in eReader sales has translated to a more representative meteor trajectory.  Down.  Given the relatively high price of dedicated eReaders compared to multi-functional tables such as the iPad (full fat and mini), the Kindle Fire, Google Nexus and quite a number of me-too devices it is less compelling to buy one of the dedicated eReaders.

It's not that eReaders are without their attractions - the lack of  multi-functionality can be seen as a blessing in disguise.  Less distractions from your reading and less chance of the device being 'borrowed' - owners of tablet computers who are parents to teenagers might recognise that benefit.  Other attractions include the extended battery life of the eReaders, usually between one and two months in-between charges for most of the main brands, often less for the lesser known makes.  Most tablet users will be used to the discipline of putting their tablets on charge overnight, every night, but go on a long transatlantic flight - and I'm not aware there are many short ones - then the eReader battery life starts to look very attractive.  And currently nothing is as good for reading in direct sunlight.  We had some sunlight the other day, the first this year, and the forecast is that we may see some more later in the year.  I would recommend everyone has an eReader at their disposal - your books will load across multiple devices anyway, so if nothing else it can be your lending library when you have an unexpected overnight stopper, however I would wait until the prices drop as they surely must soon.

Although I have no reason to doubt Kobo's assertion that they are the number 2 eReader seller and their  additional claim that the increase in sales has boosted their eBook sales, I doubt they are the number 2 eBook seller.  Given that the eReaders generally sell at cost, it's the eBook sales that make the money.  Amazon have long been the leader in that field, but it is understood that Apple are rapidly catching up.  They are almost certainly number 2 in that race.  Perhaps Kobo is number 3?  Maybe, it's probably between them and Barnes and Noble.  Or Sony, who still plug away like they are the market leaders they used to be.

I'm sorry that the eReader market peaked and sank as quickly as it did, I think eBooks will be the poorer for its rapid decline.  But eBooks are here to stay, that's for sure, and we'll all need devices to read them.  However we can't ignore the rapid adoption of tablet computers and personally I'm happy that the technology became affordable as fast as it did, even if it has rendered the eReader market almost obsolete in one stroke.

If you're still in the market for an eReader, especially for one with better resolution than the average model, then this may be worth a look, but for most people the money being asked for is painfully close to the price of the entry level tablet computers from Kobo.


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