Earlier today Kobo confirmed the hints they dropped last month at IFA Berlin: tablets are yesterday’s news.
Speaking to The Bookseller, Kobo president Michael Tamblyn explained that tablet devices were no longer a focus area for the company. Instead Kobo will be turning their attention to apps on other company’s hardware. Tamblyn said: “We found people were just as happy reading through an app on devices than they were reading directly on tablets.”R.I.P.
Kobo is now going to turn their hardware attention to maintaining 3 ereaders: the Touch, Aura, and the recently launched Aura H2O. Unfortunately, future plans don’t include a replacement for the 5″ Kobo Mini, alas.
When asked if Kobo was backing out of the tablet market to focus on those three ebook readers, Tamblyn added: “That is something you are generally going to see across all our retailer relationships. The tablet devices we already have out there will continue to be sold, but we are not at this point planning any new tablets.”
Kobo has always been a small fry in the tablet market, and they’ve never really had the market share to afford the option of being aggressive in promoting their own hardware. This put them in a catch 22 situation where they kept being outshouted by larger competitors with bigger marketing budgets and better brand recognition.
And when Takahito Aiki took over for Mike Serbinis earlier this year, the high capital cost of Kobo’s tablet program probably made it a key candidate for that turnaround specialist to put on the chopping block.
Kobo’s new policy resembles Amazon’s current ereader plan, which comprises of 3 Kindles (not counting other hardware like the Fire tablets, etc) and largely runs contrary to B&N’s hardware plans, which consist of a single ereader and a commitment to sell a million units of a pair of co-branded tablets.