Kobo Officially Part of Rakuten Now

It’s official, Kobo is now a division of Rakuten, meaning that Kobo now has some deep parental pockets and an even stronger international reach. While they may still be number 3, they have an opportunity to grab more share in 2012, as B&N struggles to expand internationally. Plus from the sound of Kobo’s press release they had an excellent holiday season!

According to Kobo:

  • December 25th was Kobo’s best day ever for eBook downloads, with several ebooks downloaded every second by readers in over 150 countries
  • ·         Kobo saw a 10-fold increase in new customers compared to the company’s pre-holiday period
  • ·         Compared to last year’s holiday season, eGifting increased by 500%, eReader sales and eBook sales more than doubled
  • ·         More than 1 million new Kobo users were added in December alone

“During this holiday season, Kobo has demonstrated strong sales and continued leadership within the competitive eReading market; we are very excited to complete the acquisition of Kobo and look forward in supporting its global expansion,” said Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten.  Beyond Kobo’s established presence in theU.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, the company also saw dramatic gains in the UK, France and Germany this holiday season.”

“While the transformation to digital reading is well underway, it is still in its infancy.  As a part of Rakuten, we will accelerate our growth internationally, bringing new products, a leading eReading experience and a world class catalogue to passionate readers everywhere,” said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo Inc.

Kobo’s results just show there’s still quite a bit of growth to go in the ebook market, especially for a company willing to be aggressive. eReader sales doubling is huge, though I do wonder what the ratio was between Vox tablets and pure eInk devices. Still, Kobo’s success thus far, and being acquired by Rakuten, proves a few things. One, you can’t ignore the international markets. Kobo and Amazon are rapidly capturing the world markets, and B&N is…still deciding what to do. Second, Kobo has done a lot of work to simultaneously appeal to people looking for a broad ebookstore that can work with multiple devices AND still built a proprietary ecosystem. They run contests, offer up coupons, and are generally hustling for business, and clearly that’s paying dividends.

The amazing thing is that ebooks are still very young, and while the market seems clearly broken out as Amazon, B&N, Kobo, everyone else, a resurgent Kobo full of Rakuten cash is a whole new player. This was a quick acquisition turnaround, and it will be very exciting to see what 2012 brings!

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