Borders will sell the new Kobo Wireless eReader, in a further attempt to carve market share away from Amazon.com's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook. The e-reader market has expanded rapidly over the last year, resulting in a combination of falling device prices and new hardware additions-and putting pressure on all competitors to match each other's latest moves.
The Kobo e-reader reportedly features faster performance, longer battery life and a sharper-contrast e-ink screen. Available Nov. 1, it will retail for $139.99, the same price point as the WiFi-only version of the Kindle, with shipments scheduled for October. In addition, the Kobo store now apparently includes 2.2 million e-books.
Borders first announced it would sell the Kobo through its stores June 17, initially pricing the e-reader at $150. The Kobo includes 1GB of memory, comes preloaded with 100 free e-books, and can display documents in ePub, PDF and Adobe DRM formats.
Borders and Kobo find themselves targeting an e-reader market already kicking into high gear ahead of the holiday shopping season. Amazon.com recently issued a 30-second television spot contrasting its new Kindle with the Apple iPad, which is considered a major competitor in the market. In the ad, a man struggles to read his tablet PC's screen in the blinding sunlight, while the woman beside him merrily scans the text on her next-generation Kindle. When asked how she can read "in this light," the woman responds: "It's a Kindle, $139. I actually paid more for these sunglasses."
The next-generation version of the Kindle with 3G actually costs $189, with feature tweaks that include a higher-contrast e-ink screen, longer battery life, Wikipedia access, support for password-protected PDFs and a more lightweight body.
According to analytics company In-Stat, e-reader shipments will grow from around 12 million units in 2010 to 35 million in 2014.
"Tablet PC shipments are taking off, fueled in particular by the Apple iPad introduction. Yet there will still be a revenue opportunity for e-reader suppliers and OEMs since tablet PCs and e-readers target different consumers," Stephanie Ethier, an analyst with In-Stat, wrote in a Sept. 14 research note. "Stand-alone e-readers will address the needs of avid readers, to whom the reading experience is central. Tablets are better suited for consumers who prefer a stronger multimedia experience, and only light reading."
In-Stat predicted that e-readers will decline in price throughout the rest of 2010, with more devices dipping below $100.