On the eve of its one year anniversary -- the first Kobo was sold May 1, 2010 in Canada, late June in the US and rest of the world -- Kobo has attracted an additional $50 million investment capital. The press release is here: http://blog.kobobooks.com/kobo-close...ling-position/
It's really quite a remarkable story: in Sep 2009 Kindle went International; Nov 2009 the b&w Nook launched; in Apr 2010 the Apple iPad launched. Kobo had intended to occupy a low price pole for e-readers at $149 and, at the time, the cheapest Nooks and Kindles were $259. But by the time of the US Kobo launch, Kindle and Nook matched the $149 price point and Kindle revved up to launch Kindle 3 at that price in Sep 2010 AND with the fancy new Pearl screen. Sony followed later in the fall with its Pearl editions and, while it did not lower prices as much, it did adjust downward.
Is there room for a "fourth" brand? Clearly, investors think so; this is the second round of additional financing Kobo has attracted in the past year. Kobo has also been pursuing a "global" customer -- it is not US-centric like B&N -- and has created English language stores for Canada, US, UK, AU, NZ and HK and will launch stores for Germany and Spain next month, with France, Italy and the Netherlands this summer. Kobo has also partnered with RIM (Blackberry), Samsung and HTC so that its reading apps are featured on many of their devices sold globally. Kobo's ereader software is also available for iPad and several white label devices from Pandigital and others.
The company runs on a shoestring and is pitted directly against Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony and, arguably, Apple ... but has successfully proved its case as a "Kobo platform" approach -- taking a direct page out of Amazon's strategy book: read any content anywhere, anytime, any device. When you look back, the pace of development, and market penetration for Kobo, is breath-taking.
How soon before we think of Kobo as the "third brand"?
Kudos to Kobo!