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It’s Official: Kobo is Getting Out of Tablets

kobo itunes ios logoEarlier 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."


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.

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Rob Siders October 9, 2014 um 6:13 pm

No big loss if you ask me. One of the best things that ever happened to me was Kobo screwing up my pre-order for the first Vox. It never arrived and I ended up getting a refurbished for cheap later. What a dog that was.

Anne October 9, 2014 um 6:47 pm

The Touch? Is that a misprint? I didn’t think they were still making those (just selling off stock).

What about the Glo and the Aura HD? Are they discontinued?

Nate Hoffelder October 9, 2014 um 7:00 pm

Looking at the website, the 6.8″ Aura HD is marked down to $139 as if it is on clearance. It costs the same as the Aura and only $10 more than the Glo. The Touch, on the other hand, costs $79.

So yes, I do think that list of 3 devices is accurate. It would result in devices priced at $79, $139, and $179.

Tahiana June 23, 2015 um 10:27 pm

The glo is the latest model of the touch series and the aura hd was a limited edition only….

jason October 9, 2014 um 7:06 pm

Surely by now Kobo could reduce the price of the Glo, and instead chop the Touch from the lineup. I presume this also means the Aura HD is being phased out? That would make sense.

Anne October 9, 2014 um 7:14 pm

Surprising, if so, since they are out stock of the black and silver on their web site. Maybe they will refresh that device soon, if they plan to keep it as a current device.

Anne October 9, 2014 um 7:15 pm

I agree, Jason, the Glo is so much better than the Touch. If they set the price at $99 they would sell a ton of them.

Nate Hoffelder October 9, 2014 um 7:20 pm

I think Kobo decided they had to match the price of the cheapest Kindle, and the Touch was the best way to do that.

Plus, there’s really not that much difference between the Aura and the Glo. The software is the same, and the screen/light/touch are close enough that it is hard to tell the difference. The cheaper one would be constantly undercutting the more expensive model.

I kinda wish they had kept the 5″ Mini, though.

Anne October 10, 2014 um 7:26 am

The text on the Glo screen looks better than on the Aura, to my eyes. I like the smaller form of the Aura, but the Glo is superior in every other way, to me.

Nate Hoffelder October 10, 2014 um 7:44 am

I too prefer the the hardware design of the Glo over that of the Aura. It’s not thinner, but because of the way the back is curved it feels like it’s thinner. And the quilted back is frankly more pleasant to the touch than the hard plastic corners on the Aura.

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Andrew October 10, 2014 um 9:34 am

I am sorry to hear that they are doing this, but it makes sense. I have Kobo Arc 7, and it is great. I bought it because the similarly-priced brand name Android competitors lacked expansion memory slots.

I am happy to hear they will keep selling ereaders at least.

JennLynn October 10, 2014 um 11:14 am

Probably a wise move for a smaller company, though I’m sure some people will miss the smallest size. Hopefully they can concentrate on improving their ereader software. I just got an H2O and am decidedly unimpressed with that aspect of it. (The hardware – screen and light – are absolutely wonderful, though.)

Moses October 10, 2014 um 7:56 pm

Kobo is one company I adore. They never had the chance to stand against the major tablet players in the industry.

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oj829 October 13, 2014 um 12:36 pm

Still use my 1st-gen Kobo Arc. Had to replace the software launcher (of course) and ditch the tapestries, but the front-facing speakers and volume-booster (in TruSRS) which works on EVERY application that makes music, words, or noise, are features that are hard to find elsewhere.

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