Last week’s news that Kobo is to be the default ebook reader on Blackberry’s new tablet got a fair amount of coverage but I wonder if the wider significance of the deal has been missed by the media?
The Canadian retailer has already been announced as providing the ebook store for Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Tab tablet and offers apps for Apple’s iPad and iPhone as well the Palm Pre, Blackberry handsets and Android phones.
The iPod maker scored a huge success by turning iTunes into the dominant digital music retailer but it’s hard to see how iBooks can ever have the same level of success when the entry level iPad will set you back £429.
Real success in the ebook market will go to firms who support a multitude of devices and while both Kindle and and Kobo draw in supporting various phone and tablet platforms as well as their own branded ebook readers, Kobo has one added advantage – it supports other people’s ebook readers as well as its own.
An ebook bought from Kobo can not only be read on a phone or tablet via the firm’s app, it can also be read on an ePub compatible readers such as those from Sony. Sadly for Amazon, the same isn’t true of Kindle books.
Given that selling books and not hardware is what the game is really about, this is a potentially huge advantage for Kobo if it can draw users of ‘traditional’ ebook readers to its website.
Either way, don’t be surprised if the next few months see announcements of more tablet manufacturers joining forces with Kobo.
As for iBooks, unless Apple drops the use of in-house DRM and joins other ePub retailers in supporting the industry standard Adobe DRM, it risks being the third place runner in the ebook race.