Today was Kobo’s first birthday! Happy Birthday Kobo! It’s tough to reach a year old in such a competitive ereader environment, so good job! I’ve said it before, but Kobo is a very interesting company. Despite having less marketshare and resources than Amazon or B&N, they’re basically in lockstep as far as features and prices. In addition, Kobo has been very open about the changes we’ve seen in the ebook market, like agency pricing, and have been refreshingly candid in their blog posts and announcements.
So it’s no surprise their “first birthday” post is equally honest. Their CEO has laid out Kobo’s accomplishments along with where he thinks the market is headed. Kobo sees a big focus on social networks, the flexibility to read across multiple platforms, and a big uptick in ebook sales. You can read his whole assessment below, and then share in the comments if you think he’s nailed it, or if you disagree with one of the predictions!
KOBO™ CELEBRATES FIRST ANNIVERSARY WITH INDUSTRY LEADING FIRSTS
eReading Pioneer Announces Impressive Growth and Outlines Vision for 2011
TORONTO, ON — December 15, 2010— Kobo, the only pure-play global eReading service built on an open platform, today marked its one-year anniversary by outlining significant growth and industry milestones as well as its vision for the future of eReading. Today’s news comes less than one week following the launch of Kobo Reading Life on the iPad, the industry’s first-ever comprehensive social eReading experience pioneering the ability for a consumer to share what they are reading with friends on Facebook, view reading stats, earn achievements, and check-in with favourite characters and places inside a book.
“In one year, Kobo has experienced phenomenal growth and shown impressive leadership across the eReading world,” said Michael Serbinis, Chief Executive Officer of Kobo. “Analysts predict that eBooks will represent over 30% of global book sales by 2014 and Kobo is well positioned to go after that market with its vision of delivering any eBook, newspaper, or magazine to any device worldwide.”
Since launching on December 15, 2009, Kobo has:
· Sold millions of eBooks to customers in over 100 countries
· Distributed millions of free eBooks to over 1.3 million registered users and millions of free users
· Confirmed its commitment to eReading on any device by launching free eReading applications for the widest range of device platforms including iPhone, iPad, Android, Android Tablets (an industry first), Blackberry, Palm WebOS, Windows, Mac OS, Linux and other eReaders. With Kobo, users can focus on building their lifetime library, independent of device
· Assembled one of the largest catalogs in the world with over 2.2 million eBooks, popular newspapers and magazines, from thousands of leading publishers such as Random House, Harper Collins, and Penguin Group
· Licensed its open platform to booksellers worldwide, enabling leading booksellers to launch eReading services in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong
· Launched the eReader for Everyone – the Kobo eReader in May, which became the first $99 eInk-based eReader in the US. Subsequently launched the Kobo Wireless eReader, now for sale at Walmart stores and Walmart.com, Indigo, Chapters, Borders, Swindon (Hong Kong), Angus & Robertson’s (Australia) and Whitcoull’s (New Zealand)
· Announced partnerships with leading consumer electronics leaders including Samsung and RIM, enabling eReading on the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Blackberry Playbook – an industry first
· Launched newspapers and magazine subscriptions for iPad, iPhone and the Kobo Wireless eReader – enabling customers to buy a subscription once, and read on multiple devices – an industry first
· Launched eBook gifting and gift card programs on www.kobo.com – an industry first
· Introduced ‘Reading Life’ from Kobo – an industry first social eReading experience, that brings the culture of reading to digital, making eReading more social, meaningful, and fun
“We are expecting the biggest single eBook sales day in history as people turn on new eReaders, tablets, and smartphones on Dec 25th ,“ said Serbinis. Another industry first, Kobo offers the ability to gift an eBook or send an eBook gift card. “Thousands of eBooks will be gifted and delivered on Dec 25th to new and existing Kobo users just in time for the Holidays. These consumers will demand an experience that is ubiquitous, independent of today’s popular devices and an experience that brings the culture of reading to digital. Kobo is the only service already delivering on those expectations and the ideal place for consumers to build their digital libraries for life.”
The Future of eReading is Social, Local, and Real-Time
The launch of Kobo’s recently-announced Kobo Reading Life marks the industry’s first comprehensive social eReading experience, personalizing eReading and creating a fun, engaging, and meaningful experience. Reading Life creates new ways for users to engage with their content, providing feedback about their reading styles and preferences through statistics, activity timelines and achievements for just simply reading. In the first few days since the launch of Reading Life, over 100,000 awards have been granted and the majority were shared with friends on Facebook. With Reading Life, users can also “check-in” when they discover important characters or places in books – another industry first by Kobo. “Leveraging the social graph, location and real-time information will redefine the eReading category entirely in 2011, and Kobo will be at the forefront,” said Serbinis. Reading Life is currently available on the iPad and will launch on iPhone and all Kobo platforms in the coming months.
The Future of eReading is Ubiquitous
Kobo pioneered eReading on any device from its open, cloud based platform. Open standards give users the freedom to build and access their lifetime libraries as they choose. Kobo users can download free eReading applications at www.kobo.com for most smartphones, netbooks, tablets, desktops and macs. Kobo also supports a wide range of dedicated eReaders like the Sony eReader and Nook, and has partnered with device OEMs like Samsung and RIM. Continuing to build on the open strategy, Kobo users can also borrow and read books from their local library on the Kobo eReader. Not only can users access their lifetime libraries across their devices at any time, they can also read from one device to the next and pick up from the page where they last left off with Kobo’s Sync technology.
The Future of eReading goes far, far beyond eBooks
eBooks are only the beginning. Over half of all users already use Kobo to read non-Book content including personal documents, newspapers and magazines. The use of eReading applications will go far beyond ebooks in 2011 as people connect with multiple sources and types of reading material in one open environment, leveraging a powerful reading experience where they can track and share their entire Reading Life and build their lifetime library.
About Kobo, Inc.
Kobo is a global eReading service backed by majority shareholder Indigo Books & Music, Borders Group, REDgroup Retail, and Cheung Kong Holdings. Kobo believes consumers should be able to read any book on any device. With a catalog of over two million eBooks, magazines, newspapers and an open platform, Kobo enables retailers, device manufacturers and mobile operators to bring the joy of eReading to customers everywhere. For more information, visit www.kobo.com.