The Kobo e-reader, which currently competes with Amazon’s Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook, may be getting a boost soon with new backing from Japan’s version of Amazon, a large e-commerce operator called Rakuten. The Japanese company is purchasing Kobo for $315 million and intends to rapidly grow its user base around the world.
Kobo’s founding company, Canadian-based Indigo Books & Music, which owns 58 percent, will receive $140 to $150 million from the deal, while Rakuten will receive 100 percent of all issued and outstanding shares of Kobo. This will bring Rakuten a line of e-readers, tablets, software, and a 5.6 million user base spread over more than 100 countries.
Rakuten claims to be one of the world’s top three e-commerce companies by revenue and will be adding 50 million potential Kobo customers from around the world. Kobo will become a wholly owned subsidiary that will continue to operate as a standalone company under CEO Michael Serbinis in Toronto.
Kobo recently introduced the new 7-inch Kobo Vox Android-based e-reader that competes with Amazon’s Kindle Fire with a $199.99 price tag, but allows for full access to the installed Android 2.3 Gingerbread.