Kobo Purchased By Japanese Ecommerce Company

Just as the Kobo ereaders make an assault on the UK market, the

Canadian-based company has announced that it has been purchased by Japanese ecommerce

firm Rakuten for US$325 million.

Kobo was founded by Indigo, a book, gift and toy retailer in

Canada,

in 2009 and it remained the majority shareholder, though the now-extinct Borders

also had an 11 per cent share.

Rakuten, who will purchase all shares, claims to be one of the top three largest ecommerce company in

the world in terms of revenue and sees this move as the first step in creating “an

ecosystem to provide downloadable media products to consumers, starting with

eBooks.”

The original Kobo eReader has been on sale in the North America

and Australia

since May of last year and the company launched a Wi-Fi model in October, 2010

and a new Kobo eReader Touch earlier this year.

Last month the Kobo eReader and Kobo eReader Touch went on

sale in the UK

in WHSmith stores. Kobo has also produced a 7in tablet called the Kobo Vox, as

well as having an eBook Storeand a user base of 5.6 million.

Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis said: “We share a common vision of

creating a content experience that is both global and social. Rakuten is

already one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, while Kobo is the most

social eBook service on the market and one of the world’s largest eBook stores

with over 2.5 million titles. This transaction will greatly strengthen our

position in our current markets and allow us to diversify quickly into other

countries and e-commerce categories.”

Kobo ereader touch

Kobo will remain as an independent operation and continue to

be based in Toronto.

The transaction will be subject to the customary closing conditions and is

expected to close in Q1 2012.

The Kobo is facing stiff competition in the ereader market

from the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Sony Reader range but its acquisition by such a large company

could give it the push that it needs to become a larger player in the market. 

Source: Kobo

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