Kobo announces new hardware

Kobo announces new hardware

Kobo announced new hardware today…although weirdly, it isn’t on their website yet.

Hypothetically available to order today, according to this

CNET review by David Carnoy

and other sources, Kobo will have the Aura available for $149.99.

It’s a frontlit (like the Paperwhite) 6″ capacitative touch screen model.

What I’m reading makes it sounds like they’ve improved the appearance. Also, reportedly, you’ll only see the screen redrawn every 100 screens or so…and battery life still sounds comparable to competitors’ devices.

Certainly, Kobo is a worthy company in the EBR (E-Book Reader) market, even if they aren’t that big here in the USA.

They’d best bask in the spotlight while they can. No wi-fi Paperwhite appears to be available new from Amazon now, although the 3G model is. That strongly suggests to me an announcement soon…it wouldn’t surprise me if it was tomorrow (given Amazon’s history with Wednesday announcements).

Kobo will apparently continue offering the more expensive Aura HD, and their other models (mini, glo, and touch).

They are also introducing three new tablets in their ARC line.

They range from $150 to $400. Let’s go with CNET again with this

post by Eric Franklin

Amazon’s lowest priced tablet is $159…and that might drop if Amazon introduces new hardware soon ($149 is certainly a more attractive price point for a lot of people).

This

TechCrunch article by Ingrid Lunden

has some interesting information on the software/features side.

One is “reading mode”. Essentially, that cuts off all distraction from reading…saving battery charge life and making the “unitaskers” out there happier. ๐Ÿ˜‰

They are also spiffing up the stores, with interest specific stores…kids’ books and magazines, for example.

I’ll stop there, since I don’t want to take too much away from the reporting of others.

Does it make sense to buy a Kobo?

I do think they are an innovative company with an interesting future, even though they may not tend to do anything too wild or out there.

However, I don’t think they can match Amazon in services, including Customer Service.

For example, one of the big attractions for me of the Kindle store is that you can “return” a Kindle store book for a refund within seven days of purchase. You can decide why you want to return it…up to you. Naturally, if you abused the privilege (you bought 100 books in three months and returned every single one, as a hypothetical), you’d hear about it from Amazon and they might drop you as a customer, eventually (that’s about the last thing they ever want to do).

Kobo’s

Terms of Sales

say it quite bluntly: “All Sales (sic) are final.”

That doesn’t make them out of the norm…last I checked, you couldn’t return e-books to Barnes & Noble or Sony, either.

It just makes Amazon extraordinarily good in this.

My guess is that Kobo users are happy with their devices, and that they will continue to come up with tweaks that make the reading experience better. I expect them to be around for quite a while, in part because of their strength outside the USA (I can’t say the same for Barnes & Noble…I would put B&N more in the category of “I think they might…”).

I do think that Amazon offers more in terms of the broad customer experience. Their integration of books with other content, and with physical objects, does make sense to me. Why shop in ten stores if you can shop in one and get better services, prices, and selection?

Amazon just announced something that might become very important in this

press release

The Mobile Associates API (Application Programming Interface) will let app studios add in-app purchasing of physical items, and they’ll get advertising fees, the way Amazon Associates do now.

That may not sound like much to you, but it could really change some things.

An app doesn’t have to be a game (but it could…you could buy cosplay Doctor Who items while playing a Doctor Who game, for example…or any of the many TARDIS items). It could be a store simulation.

You could be using a sporting goods store simulation app, and actually buy the products right there.

Another way Amazon may become your Everything of Choice (gee, maybe I should trademark that) ๐Ÿ˜‰ is by providing its own new wireless way to connect to the internet.

Yep, not wi-fi, not 4G…possibly something different, maybe more accessible, and perhaps free (hard to say at this point).

I think I first saw this story in this

Bloomberg article by Olga Kharif & Danielle Kucera>

and I was also alerted by a reader in a private e-mail (thanks!).

Imagine that Amazon owns its own network…and that it is better than what you are using now.

Oh, that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t perhaps let other companies use it…for licensing, fees, of course.

This would be like…Amazon owning the biggest store in town, and then building a brand new, superfast and convenient public transit system.

If other, smaller stores want to have their customers use the hypertransit, they have to pay Amazon.

Interesting…

So, would I buy a Kobo?

I wouldn’t suggest you don’t do that, but you aren’t going to be reading your Kindle store books on one of their readers, although I believe you can install the Kindle app on the tablets.

In other words, I wouldn’t walk away from Amazon for a Kobo…but nobody says you need only one e-book ecosystem.

This is all good new for Kindle users, of course…competition drives innovation and price deflation.

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

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