In time for Diwali, Kobo has launched its range of e-reader and tablet devices in India including the Kobo Touch™, Kobo Glo, Kobo Arc and Kobo Aura HD with apps for iOS, Android, Microsoft, and BlackBerry platforms.
The devices have been launched in partnership with Crossword bookstores, WHSmith and Croma chain of electronic stores. The details of the partnership are not clear.
Kobo claims to offer nearly 4 million titles across 68 languages including Indian authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Ramachandra Guha and Sachin Garg, among others and international authors such as Dan Brown, John Grisham and Lee Child, among others.
As an introductory offer, Kobo is offering a special Diwali pricing that will be available until November 3 on select Kobo devices including Kobo Arc available at Rs. 9999 (regularly priced at Rs.11, 999) and Kobo Touch at Rs. 6999 (regularly priced at Rs. 7,999). The company states that free or discounted ebook offers will also be available with the purchase of Kobo devices or with the download of a Kobo app for a limited time.
Interestingly, the discounted price offered by Kobo for its Kobo Touch is still expensive compared to Amazon’s festive pricing for its the lowest model of its Kindle. Amazon is offering its Kindle 6 inch at Rs. 4999, 6GB model of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch tablet at Rs 17,999 and the 32GB version of Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch at Rs 25,999, after discount. The offer will be available only to customers purchasing their Kindle through the Amazon website. However, other higher models of Kobo are available at prices lower than Amazon.
Remember that Amazon has a retail tie-up with Redington, which gives it an edge over Kobo and it will be interesting to see if Kobo also inks similar retail tieup in future.
Amazon’s real edge over Kobo is the collection of books that it offers to its readers which includes many exclusive titles.Kobo may be able to strengthen its position in India by signing up with more publishers especially Indian publishers.
Other players in this space
Infibeam had also launched an e-book reader called Pi2 in March 2011, however we haven’t heard any new upgrades to the device in the past two years, indicating that the company has probably abandoned the e-book reader project.
Bangalore-based EC Media also offered an e-book reader called Wink e-book reader, however the company has apparently shelved the project in June 2011 and pivoted to building native reading apps across various platforms, according to a TechCircle report. The company currently offers reading apps for iPad and Windows desktops.