Originally Posted by scrapking
Obviously I like Kobo, but I'm also a businessperson myself and I've been fascinated by the business behind this. My observation is that partnering with bricks-and-mortar stores that sell books is the key. Sony has partnered with Future Shop and other tech and office supply stores for years in Canada, and had early success with that, but then Kobo comes along and (because of their relationship with a dominant bookstore chain) passes them in marketshare crazy fast. Nook in the U.S. wouldn't be the strong second place contender it is without B&N, I don't think. Kobo's launched itself into the lead in France through its partnership with FNAC (and, though FNAC sells tech products too, they do also sell a lot of books). Even Amazon's Kindle success was on the backs of selling it to site visitors looking for books, I think, rather than site visitors looking for tech products.
I agree with you on most of your post, but I think you missed (or at least didn't give enough credit to) one key factor in Canada: the price of the Original Kobo. It was (literally) 1/2 the price of any other reader on the market and got it down to a point where the average consumer was willing to bite on it. Albeit it wasn't very polished and was a pretty weak offering compared to today, but it was IMHO a game changer in that it forced all the others to drop prices which made e-readers more mainstream.
I think the fact that while Amazon was theoretically available in Canada, between the price and limited availability (had to order it online, couldn't check it out hands on) and delayed international release of new versions, it hurt Kindles chances. Which ties into exactly what you said about having the Kobo available in a bricks and mortar BOOK store -- i.e. where your target market (readers) is drawn to anyway. This captures a likely target market that may never have thought about e-reading and therefore didn't seek out the alternatives at an electronics store. But when you could try it hands on and realize that it really was like reading a book (not like reading on a backlit device) helped sell them.
For sure Kobo being the only frontlit e-reader currently available in Canada (without jumping through hoops) has to be putting them in a really good position for this Christmas season.
As for Kobo's e-book marketshare in Canada I'd be shocked if they didn't have over 50%. If they have 50+ percent of the hardware, by default I'd guess at least 70% of people with a Kobo reader are going to buy from Kobo because they don't realize they can buy elsewhere or convenience/fear of figuring out how to buy elsewhere. There is also the perception vs. reality thing going on. Apple always seems to come up along with Amazon when people are talking about e-books. It's interesting to see an article in The Economist being talked about in the MR General Discussions forums puts their e-book marketshare in the U.S. at 5% (with Amazon at over 2/3's). I don't know if that puts Apple in #2 or where, but they are barely a player.