Rakuten has move into the eReader marketplace with the announcement that it will acquire the Canadian spin-out company, Kobo for $315 million in cash. The Toronto based headquarters, management team and employees of Kobo will remain in place as part of the deal.
Once part of the book, toy and gift retailer, Indigo, Kobo has a number of eReader devices as well as an ebook catalogue of 2.5 million titles, integration with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as well as distribution through a number of retail partners. Users are incentivised to interact with Kobo and encourage other users through an awards system.
Rakuten, owner of several global online retail operations, sees the acquisition as a foot in the door of downloadable media, as the Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, explained:
“We are very excited about this next step. Kobo provides one of the world’s most communal eBook reading experiences with its innovative integration of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter; while Rakuten offers Kobo unparalleled opportunities to extend its reach through some of the world’s largest regional e-commerce companies, including Buy.com in the US, Tradoria in Germany, Rakuten Brazil, Rakuten Taiwan, Lekutian in China, TARAD in Thailand, and Rakuten Belanja Online in Indonesia, and of course, Rakuten Ichiba in Japan.”
The companies estimate that the global ebook market will be worth $10.6 billion by 2015, excluding the Chinese market.