Kobo Ereader gets a Touch of Fidelity

Kobo eReader Touch

Awhile back I read through Kevin Maney’s Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don’t, an interesting discussion of the conflicting forces that either spell success or failure of a new product or service.  It all comes down to the battle between fidelity (the quality of a consumer’s experience) and convenience (ease of use and price point).  With Kobo’s launch of their new Kobo eReader Touch, they look to be attempting both an eReader  that surpasses the Amazon Kindle in fidelity,or “coolness factor,” while retaining a convenient price point.  Engadget has a nice little review here.

So, advantage Kobo, right?

Well, hang on a second.  You wouldn’t assume the people at Amazon are snoozing at the wheel, would you?  Rumours persist that Amazon is poised to launch their own nifty new touch screen device in the form of a Tablet later this year.   Technology Review has some neat talking points about what the screen might be like and Daemon’s Books has a brief post on how they might market it. 

Getting back to the fidelity vs. convenience argument, the question remains, will Amazon try to trump Kobo (and hey, maybe take a run at the Blackberry Playbook and Apple iPad?) or create a touch screen just slightly cooler than Kobo’s at a similar price with maybe an App or two thrown in?

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Brother can you spare a dime (novel)?

“Hey guy, can I borrow your copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?”

“Um, no.  I bought it for the Kindle.”

“How about…”

“Nope. Kindle.”

“Well then, what about…?”

“Kindle!”

“Alright, I’ll be at the Library talking to that cute girl.”

I’ve had a Kindle for about eight months now.  I love it, it’s handy, and certainly saves a lot of space around the home office.  However, something has always annoyed me about their product.  You see, I love reading, talking about what I’ve read, and loaning out my favourite books to friends so they can enjoy them too.  Hard to do with a Kindle though.  At least ’til now.

Amazon has finally jumped on the bandwagon and relaxed their proprietary rules (somewhat).  Was it pressure from Google books?  Are they feeling the heat from Sony’s eReader?  Honestly, who cares?  It’s just nice to know that Kindle readers can now share content with their friends. As an aside, it’s also a great marketing tool for Amazon!

For their part, Amazon has made lending an book very similar to the library experience.  The lender can send an eBook to a friend for a period of two weeks, after which the recipient can no longer access the book.  Also, the lender of an eBook cannot access that book on their Kindle during the same time frame, just as if you were to physically loan out a book to a friend.

How does the recipient access their friend’s book?  Just download the Kindle app to your digital product of choice, whether iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry or PC/Mac.  The lender goes through a relatively simple process on their Kindle, and voila, they’ve loaned a book.

There are a couple of caveats:

  • Not all books are eligible to be loaned.  Amazon has left it up to the individual publishers to decide whether their material can be lent.
  • To read a loaned book, you must have the Kindle app.  (However, since it’s free, it shouldn’t be a big deal to download to whatever device you choose).
  • As of right now (January 2011), the lending option is only available in the United States. 

 Apparently the rest of the World will have to wait a bit longer.  Hmmph!

Chapters/Indigo gets serious about e-reader competition

Way back in July of 2010, Kobo Inc., a subsidiary of Indigo Books and Music, introduced the Kobo eReader as an inexpensive alternative to pricier eReaders such as Amazon’s Kindle.  Their thought process: that people would embrace a low-cost eReader even if it meant fewer features like WiFi.

Three months ago that must have seemed like a great idea.  What would happen though, if say, Kindle prices dropped to an equivalent level or they created a bare bones version that still contained WiFi?  Oh wait, they did.  Awkward.

So, after what must have been a panicked boardroom meeting, Kobo is releasing a wireless version of their eReader on November 1st, retailing at $149 Cdn.  However, big brother’s new Kindle retails for $139 Cdn.  Also awkward.

(note: Marketing Magazine’s article on the Kobo lists the retail price as $139 Cdn. but the Kobo website lists it at $149 as of this writing)