Japan’s Amazon Buys Kobo’s E-Reader Biz

Nov 09, 2011
George Anderson

With all the press around Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Apple’s iPad and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, it’s not hard to see why Kobo has been out of the headlines. There is also the little matter of the demise of Borders, the chain most closely tied to the e-reader manufacturer.

Now, however, Kobo is back in the news with the announcement that Japan’s answer to Amazon, Rakuten, has agreed to purchase Kobo for $315 million in cash. Rakuten, according to a press release to announce the deal, is one of the top three e-commerce sites on the planet.

Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Rakuten, said in a statement, “We are very excited about this next step. Kobo provides one of the world’s most communal eBook reading experiences with its innovative integration of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter; while Rakuten offers Kobo unparalleled opportunities to extend its reach through some of the world’s largest regional e-commerce companies, including Buy.com in the US, Tradoria in Germany, Rakuten Brazil, Rakuten Taiwan, Lekutian in China, TARAD in Thailand, and Rakuten Belanja Online in Indonesia, and of course, Rakuten Ichiba in Japan.”

Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis told The Wall Street Journal, “This is not a one-country game. Two-thirds of the book market is outside North America. We’re going into countries where we will be number one.”

Discussion Questions: What do you think of Rakuten’s deal to acquire Kobo? What effect, if any, do you think it will have on the North American e-reader market?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

3 Comments on "Japan’s Amazon Buys Kobo’s E-Reader Biz"

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ronnie Perchik
Ronnie Perchik
9 years 5 months ago

The e-reader market is huge, globally speaking, and I think American marketers sometimes forget to think in this way. There’s a great deal of opportunity to expand beyond the States, and think about how a technology or nontraditional marketing strategy would resonate in other countries.

We’re proponents of nontraditional at PromoAid, so I think this is a great move. The bigger question is not how this acquisition in Japan will affect North America, but will e-readers stick around for a while. The purchase, in today’s market, was a smart one. But we need to pay close attention to whether or not reading will become truly digital in the years to come.

Ryan Mathews
9 years 5 months ago

This may be the wrong question.

As Serbinis points outm there’s more to the book market than North America.

There will be any number of national, multinational and global players in the e-book, tablet market before clear winners emerge.

The idea of taking a global approach at least bears some paying attention to.

James Tenser
9 years 5 months ago

Great win for Kobo, which (let’s face it) is barely known here in the U.S. Reading between the lines, I perceive that Rakuten feels it has scored an alternative platform to compete on the world stage with Amazon’s Kindle and overtake B&N’s Nook

Looking over the Kobo Vox feature set on the http://www.kobo.com web site, I’m inclined to think it is ready for prime time.

A few features stand out: The commitment to an open reader format. The color screen “optimized for reading outdoors.” The integration of social reading and personal organizer features.

If Kobo’s reader truly delivers on all of these and the expected capabilities like magazines, newspapers and games, it may prove to be a great win for Rakuten too.


Take Our Instant Poll

How much of a boost will Kobo receive as a result of being acquired by Rakuten?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...