Some claim that smartphones and tablets are already making ereaders obsolete, and it’s far from certain that the latest Nook Barnes & Noble released last week will turn around the bookseller’s sinking ebook business. But that hasn’t stopped Kobo from developing a new waterproof device, the Kobo Aura H2O, which it unveiled today.
Kobo’s President and Chief Content Officer Michael Tamblyn characterized the new ereader, which retails for $179 and is due out October 1 in North America and select countries in Europe, as the latest in a series of efforts at offering devices purpose-built for readers at the premium end of the market.
“While we continue to innovate in the app space,” Tamblyn told Digital Book World, “we kept our eye on the 10% of the customers who make up 50% of the volume” of ebook sales. That decision was based on the “surprise” success this year of the Kobo Aura HD, which Kobo expected would account for about 5% of its device sales but turned out to constitute 25%.
“It showed us we could tap into a segment of the market” of ebooks readers for whom “reading is at the center of their lives,” Tamblyn said.
The Kobo Aura H2O aims to be a sort of all-terrain, sport-utility ereader, designed for those who want to take their devices places they otherwise wouldn’t, like into the bathtub or to the beach. The device is both thinner and lighter than the Kobo Aura HD, costs $10 more than and boasts an upgraded high-definition display and dustproof, air-tight design that resists water for up to thirty minutes when submerged.
Tamblyn made clear that Kobo doesn’t consider the Aura H2O a “mass adoption device” but one meant for ebook readers who place a high “priority on having the highest quality reading experience.” Still, Kobo hopes it will replace the earlier Aura HD over the course of the coming year, as that breed of ebook reader is won over by the H2O’s upgraded and additional features.
According to Tamblyn, Kobo currently boasts about 21 million users and a content catalog of over 4.2 million titles published by 33,000 publishers around the world.
KOBO ANNOUNCES KOBO AURA H2O: WORLD’S FIRST PREMIUM WATERPROOF EREADER
Passionate Readers can now enjoy worry-free reading wherever they go – From the bus, to the bed, to the bath, to the beach
TORONTO, ON – August 26, 2014 – Kobo, a global leader in eReading, today launched Kobo Aura H2O – the world’s first premium waterproof E Ink eReader. Kobo’s constant focus on the needs of passionate book lovers has resulted in a new high definition device that allows readers to enjoy ebooks anywhere they want to read, including previously risky places like the bath or at the beach.
Kobo Aura H2O will be available in black and will retail for $179.99 CAD/USD (MSRP)* online and in-store, starting October 1 in Canada, the US, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain – with more countries to follow. Beginning tomorrow, select retailers will offer pre-orders, and as of September 1, pre-orders will be available at Kobo.com in Canada, the US, and the UK.
*MSRP for the UK – £139.99; for EU – €179.99.
This new addition to Kobo’s lineup of award-winning devices expands on the success of Kobo Aura HD, which was named “The Best E-Reader” by the Wall Street Journal. Thinner and lighter than Aura HD with an upgraded high definition display – and a design that beats the elements – Kobo Aura H2O provides a beautiful reading experience.
“We are most interested in those people who put books at the centre of their lives – what they want to see next, what gets them excited. When we asked our customers what held them back from reading more ebooks, many told us they love to read in the bath, by the pool, or on the beach, but believed that devices and water didn’t mix,” said Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Kobo. “As we dug deeper, we found that more than 60% of customers surveyed said they would love to be able read near water without worry. We designed the Kobo Aura H2O, our latest premium eReader, so that ebooks could be just as common at the beach or in the bath as they are on the bus or in bed.”
“Our number one priority is encouraging people to read more,” said Takahito Aiki, Chief Executive Officer, Kobo. “With our award-winning eReaders such as Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura, and Kobo Aura HD, we brought readers what they wanted: anti-glare displays for easy reading in sunlight and built-in front light technology for reading with ease day or night. The new Aura H2O adds another layer to our promise of enabling people to bring their libraries with them wherever they want.”
PERFECT FOR THE BATH OR BEACH – WATERPROOF, ANTI-GLARE, DUSTPROOF
Kobo Aura H2O is IP67 certified, which means it is waterproof for up to 30 minutes in 1 metre of water with the port cover closed. This enables people to read more, more often, anywhere they like worry-free without damaging their device if accidently dropped in or splashed with water. Reading on a sun-drenched beach is also encouraged, due to the device’s dustproof design and anti-glare display.
HIGH PERFORMANCE – HD DISPLAY, FAST PAGE TURNS, AMPLE STORAGE
Kobo Aura H2O offers the highest-resolution E Ink display available in an eReader today. At 265 dpi, the spacious 6.8” touchscreen with upgraded Carta E Ink technology – the first of its kind with these display dimensions – offers the closest experience to print-on-paper, showcasing text and high-resolution images beautifully. The device’s 1GHz processor means page turns are swift, and with 4GB of onboard storage (expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card), Readers can easily store thousands of eBooks. In addition, Kobo Aura H2O has a battery life of up to two months, making it the perfect eReader for people with a passion for the written word.
READING LIFE – CUSTOMIZABLE FONTS, INTUITIVE BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS, READING STATS
Kobo Aura H2O combines ground-breaking hardware with a software experience focused on the perfect reading experience. Each of Kobo Aura H2O’s 10 fonts were perfected pixel-by-pixel to display each letter with crisp, clear perfection; with 24 font sizes, with adjustable font sharpness and weight setting, people can truly customize their reading experience and read exactly the way they want. Kobo Aura H2O also makes the discovery of new titles a breeze, with on-device recommendations based on Readers’ activity and preferences. From romance to thrillers, biographies and memoirs to business books, non-fiction to literary fiction, Kobo has something for every Reader. Reading Life also gives people the ability to take notes, highlight text, make bookmarks, and track stats to learn more about their own reading habits; passionate Readers can even share favourite passages, quotes, and books to Facebook Timeline.
About Rakuten Kobo Inc.
Rakuten Kobo Inc. is one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading services offering more than 4-million eBooks and magazines to millions of customers in 190 countries. Believing that consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device, Kobo provides consumers with a choice when reading. Kobo offers an eReader for everyone with a wide variety of E Ink eReaders and Google-Certified Android tablets to suit any Reader’s style including the award-winning Kobo Touch™, Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura, Kobo Aura HD, Kobo Arc, Kobo Arc 7, Kobo Arc 7HD, Kobo Arc 10HD – and the newly launched Kobo Aura H2O. Along with the company’s free top-ranking eReading apps for Apple®, BlackBerry®, Android®, and Windows®, Kobo ensures the next great read is just a page-turn away. Headquartered in Toronto and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten, Kobo eReaders can be found in major retail chains around the world. For more information, visit www.kobo.com.