Kobo introduces the Vox to go head to head with the Fire

Kobo introduces the Vox to go head to head with the Fire

Kobo undoubtedly suffered a blow when Borders went under (they were content partners), but they were around before them and they shook up the market today.

They introduced the

Kobo Vox

It’s a color, backlit, 8GB, wi-fi only, 7″ Android tablet…for $199.99.

Sound familiar? ;)

First, let’s get a couple of gut reactions out of the way.

Why would you name a mobile device the Vox (Latin for “voice”) when it isn’t a phone? I know, it’s because it is from Vox Populi, or the voice of the people. That’s what they are promoting…the social aspects.

The other thing is…making it ninety-nine cents more than the Kindle Fire?

The tablet market is so splintered, it’s hard to do direct comparisons…but when people ask which is cheaper, the Fire or the Vox, the answer is the Fire. Why not just price it the same?

Okay, let’s get to the bigger things.

Yes, it will cut into the Fire’s market a bit, in my opinion. Unlike the reflective screen EBR (E-Book Reader) market, I don’t think the tablet market is quite bringing so many more people into it in the same way. That’s not that I don’t think the tablet market is expanding, I do. However, I think EBRs were new purchases in a category…there are still many people buying them who don’t think of them as the same sort of device they’ve had before. I’m not sure that people think of a tablet as a new breed in the same way…I’m not sure they don’t equate it to a little laptop at this point.

However, I do think the Fire will hugely outsell the Vox…and be a better buy.

Why?

Let’s start with the Fire’s Silk browser. This is really innovative in the mainstream. Quick! Why do you want a tablet? I’m guessing that it’s for web on the go on a bigger screen than your SmartPhone.

I do think the Silk browser is going to give us something that makes other people jealous.

Next, there’s the question of cloud storage…they both store your books for you for free…but Amazon also stores your music, movies…even personal documents (up to 5GB) for free, as long as you got them from Amazon.

One of the biggest things: Kobo is a content seller of e-books. Amazon is a content seller of video, music, apps, and more. That’s going to be a huge strength, both in perception and in seamless operation.

Now, some other comparisons:

The Fire is a tad smaller.

The Fire’s battery life seems to me to be a bit better, but it’s hard to tell. Kobo says 7 hours, Fire says 8…but it’s pretty clear, with web browsing, all bets are off.

The Vox will win for some people on the operating system, because it is a more standard Android version, increasing compatibility.

The Kobo does EPUB…I think that’s less of an issue for people now that libraries do Kindle books.

The Kobo has a memory slot for up to 32GB…that’s going to matter for some folks.

My sense of it? Content is king. The Fire will sell more. However, for people who don’t want Amazon (and they must be out there), and for Canadians (Kobo is a Canadian company with connections to Indigo…and in Canada, it appears some e-books have been pulled from Amazon and are available at Indigo), there’s a solid slice of the market for it. It also ships a couple of weeks earlier…October 28. Some people aren’t very patient, I’ve noticed. ;)

You may not have to choose, though…they are giving away ten of them through Halloween:

http://blog.kobobooks.com/kobovoxcontest/

No purchase necessary…of course, you are entered every time a book from them during the contest period. If you don’t want to purchase anything, you can send them a postcard…because nothing says cutting edge technology more than a 4″ by 6″ piece of cardstock. ;)

For more information, see this

Kobo Press Release introducing the Vox

What do you think? Is this competition for the Fire? Does Amazon need to step up the social aspects of Kindle life…maybe leveraging Shelfari…to compete more effectively? Is this another industry footnote, or a real player? Does content matter? Does EPUB matter?

Feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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3 Responses to “Kobo introduces the Vox to go head to head with the Fire”

  1. Richard Orlin Says:

    It’s close….I pre-ordered one. They have a 30-day return policy, so it can’t hurt to take a look at it. I like the idea of a micro-SD slot.
    We’ll see…

  2. Tom Semple Says:

    You’ll be able to read ePub on Fire (almost certainly, since there are several ePub apps in Amazon App Store—including Kobo— that conform to Fire’s hardware profile). It remains to be seen if Kindle for Android will be officially available on Vox, since nobody seems to know where the ‘15,000 apps’ are hosted or whether Android Market is the default. But assuming you can install Amazon App Store on Vox, everything else should work too.

    Fire has a dual core processor 1MHz. Vox is single core 800KHz. I think that will make a significant difference in performance and responsiveness of the device, much in favor of Fire.

    Fire has stereo speakers, Vox has one speaker.

    On the apples-to-oranges front, Vox has SD slot, FIre has free cloud storage. Lack of SD expansion is something a certain segment of people consider a deal breaker. But I don’t think most people who will buy these care about that.

    The more ‘stock’ Android interface of Vox may appeal to some people, but Fire’s custom interface is considered a good thing by most reviewers.

    Fire has ‘Silk’ browser. Probably not a big deal but that remains to be seen.

    The Vox description says it includes ‘3 glossy color books’. I thought that ‘glossy’ was a strange adjective to use for digital media.

    All said, Vox seems like a Nook Color clone, only coming a year later. Don’t know what is very exciting about that, apart from the lower price, and you can get refurb NCs for even less. B&N is supposed to release NC2 soon, if they meet this price point, then their backstock of NC’s will be even less, and will be a better deal than Kobo Vox where both are available (in the US that is). I think Kobo’s impact will be greater outside the US.

    • Marian Says:

      Yes, I agree, head to head comparison on paper is definitely in favor of Fire. I am really curious if Amazon online content will be available outside the US. I am afraid we will hit great firewall of North America which is built from copyright issues.

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