If you doubt there’s a three-horse race for dominance in ebooks, look no further than Kobo’s big announcement this morning. They are crowing about “triple-digit growth” in downloads, sales, and eReaders. Now, they are still trailing B&N and Amazon, especially in the USA, but they are likely pulling lots of sales from Sony, Google Books, and other small players.
It’s also worth noting that Kobo is a huge international ebook player. They are owned by Rakuten, a Japanese company, and they have a strong presence in Canada as well as in the UK, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. Amazon is in the UK, France, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Austria, and Vatican City. B&N is available internationally….nowhere. So while they don’t break it out, it is safe to say that Kobo is likely seeing much of their growth internationally, since it is just Kobo and Amazon divvying up the major retailer markets there.
I have said for a long time that Kobo is a player to be watched, and today’s news just adds to that belief. They may not be as big as Amazon, or as well-heeled as B&N, but they are hungry for growth, they have a lot of innovative ideas (especially their social networking integration), and they have a new parent company willing to help them succeed. So far, it looks like they make a formidable team, and if I were Barnes and Noble, I would start watching my back and planning my international debut sooner rather than later…because Kobo is growing, and coming for that number 2 slot!
Here are a few highlights from Kobo’s press release, and you can check out the full details here.