Skip to main content

Sony Should Partner With Kobo

A couple days ago I wrote a post on the Kobo Vox, and how I found it a disappointing Android tablet.  After I concluded that Kobo couldn’t execute on hardware, I started thinking about what Kobo should do next.

Kobo already has a couple hardware partners, including a couple tablet makers as well as Southern Telecom, makers of the (disastrous) Sharper Image Literati. A number of the devices from the partners were crap, but there were  lot of them. So why not add one more?

And that brings me to Sony.

Sony doesn’t have a track record as being all that much better at designing ereaders than Kobo, but with their new Android tablets and the Sony Reader Wifi, they could be turning that around. Sony could offer Kobo the cachet of the Sony name along with the better designers and engineers.

What would Sony get out of it? They wouldn’t have to run their own ebookstore anymore, and instead use the ebookstore run by  company dedicated to growing it. That would also solve a question I’ve had since last October.

Here’s the question: Why is Sony supporting an ebookstore when they have perhaps 1% of the US ebook market? That just doesn’t strike me as being worth the time of a multinational corporation.Given that it’s not generating the profit that the corporate overlords want, wouldn’t it be better to focus on just the hardware and let someone else run the ebookstore?

That is where Kobo would come in. Kobo would sell the Sony Reader Wifi on site, take  retailer’s cut, and Sony would redirect the on-device ebookstore to Kobo.

Is there a reason why this wouldn’t work? It seems like a great idea to me.

Similar Articles


Mike Cane February 28, 2012 um 4:12 pm

It won’t work because even the new Andy-based Sony Reader is not getting traction. Just go search Twitter to confirm it. Most tweets are spam, unlike for both Nook and — surprisingly — Kobo. Sony’s plastic shell is a turn-off and rooting it does not seem to gain the depth and breadth of extra utility than people get from a Nook Touch.

Do I think Kobo should have its own hardware? Well, they do that to get around the fees for the Adobe DRM scheme (as does B&N, I think). People who use their hardware save them that fee.

Rakuten Corporate is more likely to upgrade the Kobo hardware than Kobo is to join forces with Sony.

Nate Hoffelder February 28, 2012 um 4:27 pm

So it would be a case of the blind leading the blind?

fjtorres February 28, 2012 um 4:59 pm

Pretty much.
A better match is B&N: they have a bigger ebook market share and oodles of under-performing floorspace. Put Sony stores in the B&N shops and both benefit.
And since both companies base their hardware on Android it would be an easier merger.

Ingo Lembcke February 29, 2012 um 5:42 am

Am I the only one who prefers the Sony Store (and other stores) to the Kobo one?
Sony has more sort options and the ability to narrow down a search by searching in the results of the previous search.
Sort options at Kobo are few and most significantly missing is sort by publication date (both newest to oldest and oldest to newest). I would suggest that to them but so far I have only registered, not bought anything from them, and comparing the prices I buy at Amazon or Sony or even Barnes&Noble. The search experience at Kobo is simply awful compared with other shops. That UK based WHsmith partnered with Kobo was the worst move ever, so far they lost me there.

So no, I would not like to see Sony partner up with Kobo.
What Sony should do is make their Reader program better and the Store should be available for Web-only users: search works, but buying is only possible with the Reader program or from the eInk-Reader itself.

Richard Adin February 29, 2012 um 6:46 am

No, Ingo, you are not alone. I, too, prefer the Sony and B&N stores to Amazon, as well as to Kobo. More importantly, I suppose, is that I am still using my 4.5-year-old Sony 505 (actually my wife uses the 505) and my 1.5-year-old Sony 950. I find them to be very well-built. I think Sony’s trying to compete by downgrading to the plastic shell was a mistake. I still have no regrets about paying $300 for each of my Sony devices.

But I suspect the reality is that in a couple of years this will be another market that Sony will abandon.

What amuses me most is that Sony was the first on the block with a really well-done touch system (the x50s), which was derided — until Amazon and B&N emulated Sony a year later. Then the touch system was wanted and a "wow" factor.

Void February 29, 2012 um 2:49 pm

I prefer Sony hardware because I can use Calibre to auto-sort things. However, I end up using B&N for most shopping. Although, that is in part because I am worried that the Sony store will go away and take my purchases (and by that I mean the emergency re-download in the event of computer failure) with it.

Ravi February 29, 2012 um 11:46 pm

Kobo doesn’t need to partner with Sony. They need to partner with someone who can make a good ICS-based tablet. That list might not even include Sony (given that their current Android tablet options are quirky and apparently unsuccessful).

They need something to make the Kobo Vox stand out when it is sitting next to a Kindle Fire and a Nook Tablet at Best Buy. Given that they’ve already gone down the Android route (at least so far), the easiest way they can stand out is ICS.

Ingo Lembcke March 1, 2012 um 11:26 am

Yeah my PRS-505 is also still working, I lent it to a friend.
Great device, but no WLAN and not Android. That is not a touch-device is ok for me. But I like the weight, WLAN, Android and the browser in the PRS-T1 a lot more.

@Void : as Books do not take up much room, I import all in Calibre and copy the whole calibre library directory to a different computer or usb-stick, zip it to save even more space. Currently that is 400 MB for me, half if I zip it for 314 books.
If you are afraid because of the DRM there are solutions: as long as it exists Sony can deregister devices and must give you the option to register a new device. After I switched computers I had to contact them to deregister a computer which was broken and gone a few days. The response time and contact was good imho.
Another way would be to strip DRM, which can be done with Calibre-Plugins, which are found somewhere on the net. But depending on your location this might be illegal.

Ingo Lembcke March 3, 2012 um 12:22 pm

Sorry to correct myself: zip does not save a lot, as of course epub already is a Zip-Archive containing the files. But it is easier to transfer, in one big file containing the directory-structure and all files (epub, cover-art).

Write a Comment