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.
TORONTO, June 4, 2012 /CNW/ – Kobo Inc. a global leader in eReading, today announced triple digit growth, growing eBook downloads by 400 percent, eReader sales by 160 percent, and eReaders by 280 percent year-over-year, cementing its competitive position for an aggressive year of expansion. Kobo’s success during its short history demonstrates its winning partnership “playbook” for booksellers and retailers as the eReading industry gains momentum around the world.
“We’re thrilled to introduce Kobo’s open eReading platform and the Kobo ‘Read Freely’ philosophy to new countries around the world,” says Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. “It’s become increasingly clear that the world of eReading is the way of the future and as technology continues to break down geographic borders, Kobo is excited to lead the charge into new markets and continue to shape the future of the multi-billion dollar eReading industry.”
Kobo has established itself as a major player in eReading since its beginning just 28 months ago, with over 8-million registered users2 in 190 countries activating Kobo accounts, downloading free Kobo eReading apps for tablets, desktop computers and smartphones, and purchasing Kobo eReaders and eBooks.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of a string of successes for the company. Recent highlights include:
- The high-profile acquisition by Rakuten, the world’s third-largest e-commerce company, offering unparalleled opportunities to extend Kobo’s reach through some of the world’s largest international e-commerce companies including Buy.com and Play.com.
- The number of people reading with Kobo Internationally has grown by 280 percent1
- eBook downloads increased almost 400 percent3
- Kobo eReader device sales increased over 160 percent from the previous year4
- Kobo surpassed 2.5-million titles with 1-million free books and books in 60 languages represented in its content catalogue. Kobo recently partnered with the McClatchy Group, Dark Horse Comics and Trajectory Classics Illustrated to bring readers the latest comic, graphic novels, newspapers, as well as the hottest titles.
- Kobo’s employee base has more than doubled since January 2012, with growth in Canada, the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Luxembourg, and France