Kobo $149 eReader and "Powered by Kobo" ebook platform announced

Break out the bunting, there's a new e-reader in town.  Kobo have announced that they'll be taking on Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's nook and the eventually-linked-to-Borders Spring Design Alex with their own dedicated device, the Kobo eReader.  Great, aside from the fact that they've apparently just recycled a four-year-old Netronix ebook reader with a bright new case.

The Kobo device – which will be sold "for a limited time" at $149 – measures 0.1-inches thick and weighs 200g.  It has a 6-inch E Ink display, 5 selectable font sizes and a 4-way D-pad for navigation, and Kobo have given it a quilted vinyl back-cover for more comfortable carrying.  Onboard storage is 1GB – plus there's an SD card slot – and the battery is good for up to 8,000 page turns.

There's no WiFi or 3G, unlike its rivals, but the Kobo eReader gets Bluetooth for short-range cable-free synchronising with "select smartphones"; alternatively you can use the included USB cord.  It'll read ePUB and PDF documents, and be able to open content bought from Kobo's online catalog of around 2m titles.

While we're not especially excited about this particular hardware, Kobo are pushing their eReader application which should make it easier for third-party manufacturers to make compatible devices.  While the own-brand reader only has Bluetooth, the software supports WiFi and 3G, as well as both E Ink and LCD displays.  Expect the Kobo eReader to go on sale come May in Canada, followed by a US launch in Borders this summer.

[via MobileRead]

Press Release:

Kobo™ Expands Platform With Support for Dedicated eReaders

Company Launches Kobo eReader Showcasing New Application

LAS VEGAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kobo, the global eBook retailer, today announced support for dedicated eReaders with a new application available through its "Powered by Kobo" partner program for hardware manufacturers and retailers. Kobo's application provides a world-class eReading experience and storefront and will be embedded in leading eReaders launching in 2010. The company today also unveiled its Kobo eReader, a dedicated eReading device showcasing its new application.

"We believe consumers want choice, and the freedom to read on any device. Building great eReading applications and partnering with leading device manufacturers is a recipe for success in this quickly growing market"

The launch of the Kobo eReader application marks a first in this emerging market – standard software available for hardware partners worldwide. Kobo has developed a strong global following for its eReading applications for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, and Android-based smartphones, and full color, touchscreen tablets including the upcoming iPad.

"We believe consumers want choice, and the freedom to read on any device. Building great eReading applications and partnering with leading device manufacturers is a recipe for success in this quickly growing market," said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. "Our 'Powered by Kobo' program accelerates the time to market for manufacturers of new devices and delivers more options for consumers. By providing a world-class catalog, complementary mobile applications and global infrastructure, partners can start selling eBooks in a matter of days."

The "Powered by Kobo" program provides a flexible solution for partners to launch an eReader or eBook store offering eBooks, newspapers and magazines to their customers. Partners have access to applications for smartphones, netbooks and laptops, new tablets, and now dedicated eReaders. They also have access to API's, a software development kit, a mobile storefront, and custom integration options to differentiate their offering. Whether a partner is looking for software, content or everything in between, "Powered by Kobo" can meet their needs.

Kobo's eReader application allows users to read eBooks in both standard ePUB and PDF formats, and supports eBooks, subscriptions (newspapers, magazines) and documents. Any "Powered by Kobo" eReader application is in sync with a user's Kobo account and any Kobo-enabled device for continuous reading. The eReader application supports a range of hardware options with various screen types including eInk and LCD screens, as well as various connectivity options – USB, Bluetooth, WIFI and 3G.

The new Kobo eReader showcases the new software and will make eReading more accessible to consumers. This stylized, easy-to-use, and affordable eInk based reader will be available for a limited time through Kobo's retail partners for $149USD. It will be pre-loaded with 100 classic books so consumers can start reading right out of the box. Consumers can easily access Kobo's catalog of over 2 million eBooks, including today's bestsellers, newspapers and magazines through USB or wirelessly through Bluetooth. The Kobo eReader will be available first at Indigo Books & Music in Canada in May, followed by Borders in the US this summer. It will be the first of many dedicated eReaders preloaded with the Kobo eReader software.

For information specific to the new Kobo eReader, visit www.KoboeReader.com.