Just what we needed for Father’s Day: another e-reader hitting the market. Hoping to grab a little attention while other e-reader makers are still marketing for Mother’s Day, Kobo announced today that its device can be pre-ordered today at Borders.com and will hit the book chain in June.
Kobo already has a good rep in the e-reader world as software and an app with access to free books and an e-bookstore. Just how far that will carry it in the increasingly crowded device market is anybody’s guess but it will take a lot to nudge the Johnnies on the spot out of the way. The biggest plus may be the price point: a hard-to-match $149, preloaded with 100 free books. The lack of 3G and/or WiFi keeps the price down; it also keeps it from being a direct competitor to the Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) Nook, the Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle, or the Alex. (It’s available on the iPad as an app.)
Kobo does offer Bluetooth syncing, but with USB as its primary way of getting books, Kobo is competing primarily with Sony’s Reader Pocket Edition, which lists at $199 but has been on sale at $149 in recent weeks. The specs are here.
Kobo’s other big plus is Borders, which gives it marketing heft and instant presence. But Borders has its own financial problems and isn’t quite the launch point it once was. It’s also coming in months after Barnes & Noble started its own massive push to sell the Nook — and it’s missed the prime time for Mother’s Day sales. Can it benefit from Dad & Grad? Hard to see it making a big enough dent in time, but again, that lower price point will help when people are making comparisons.