Home » Ebooks, Kobo » Kobo Unveils Aura HD, High-Definition E-Reader

Kobo Unveils Aura HD, High-Definition E-Reader

15 April 2013

From Engadget:

[Kobo] has announced a new reader that once again rethinks the standard 6-inch screen. With the Aura HD, Kobo is going big, extending things to 6.8 inches, putting it closer to tablet size. With that upgrade comes an impressive resolution: 1,440 x 1,080 (compared to the 1,024 x 768 on the Paperwhite and 1,024 by 758 on the Glo). It’s a product focused on hardcore readers. “We got 10,000 customers together across dozens of countries to ask them what we can do for them,” Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis explained. As such, it’s a limited edition offering, one not destined to replace the flagship Glo.

. . . .

The Aura HD is a new form factor for Kobo, a large-format reader with a high-res, 6.8-inch screen, but it’s a size the company has no intention of extending beyond the end of the year. Of course, if the device proves a runaway success, Kobo would certainly be amenable to rolling out a larger-screened device as a mainstream product. “If we hear from our customers that this is the best thing since sliced bread,” says Serbinis, “it’s going to be hard for us not to listen to that.” In the meantime, there’s a fair chance the added bulk and price will be enough to doom the product to the world of niche devices.

Link to the rest at Engadget

Passive Guy wonders why Kobo spent the money to create and launch a limited edition ereader. Perhaps the company had already sunk a bunch of cash into the device but then concluded that tablets were the wave of the future. It does feel awkward.

Ebooks, Kobo

10 Comments to “Kobo Unveils Aura HD, High-Definition E-Reader”

  1. Or maybe they realized a more expensive ereader with extra features fit only a smaller clientele and they didn’t want to mass produce it and have to dump millions of them on the market at loss, or write them off into the garbage pits of devices despaired. So they keep the units produced low and call it a limited edition, which might up the interest in it. I’m already asking myself if I can justify the cost since I still don’t have an e-ink reader. I’ve done all my reading on iPod Touch and the retina iPad 3.

  2. This is probably a terrible thing to say, but I can’t wait to see what Amazon does with that high resolution eink screen.

  3. “If we hear from our customers that this is the best thing since sliced bread,” says Serbinis, “it’s going to be hard for us not to listen to that.”

    That the difference between Serbinis and Bezos. Bezos doesn’t wait for feedback. He tells consumers what they want.

    • Amazon has the resources to follow that strategy. Kobo does not. Kobo can’t drop the millions on a gamble that Amazon can, and they don’t have the customer reach either. Amazon was in the book business for over 10 years with a lot of success when they birthed the Kindle. A more expensive, larger e-ink reader may not be what the world wants. Higher resolution is a yes, though.

  4. Isn’t Kobo owned by Sony? In that case the development of this product is practically in house.

    Also, I don’t think the target is the saturated American market. This product seems tailored for regions just entering the e-rading age.

    It’s for people about to buy their very first device. In many of those regions and nations, Kobo already has a far greater market share than here. If Kobo is looking to dominate, this is their Kindle. The same strategy certainly worked for Amazon.

    • Kobo is owned by Rakuten. Sony makes their own ereaders and has their own store, but unlike Kobo they seem content to languish.

      • Thanks for making me go check my facts, Mr. Hayden 🙂

        On Rakuten from Wikpedia: “its flagship B2B2C e-commerce platform Rakuten Ichiba is the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales.

        Whereas other marketplaces may compete directly with their sellers, Rakuten seeks to empower merchants in delivering “Omotenashi” – a Japanese attitude of hospitality and customer service – intended to help sellers create lasting relationships with consumers.[3]”

        Sounds like Amazon in Japanese, only Rakuten started by selling electronics instead of books in 1997.

        It looks like Kobo can absolutely afford to gamble on a device, because its mother company has resources to match Amazon.

        Outside of the US, Kobo is the one to watch.

  5. It’s not much bigger than a KPW (a quarter inch taller and less than half an inch wider) so the extra resolution will make a big diference for pdf viewing.
    Odds are the supply of screens are what is limiting them, just as the limited supply of plastic substrate eink screens is keeping them out of the high volume players’ product lines.
    If eink can get the volume ramped up by the fall, we might see a similar kindle.

  6. PG’s question as to why Kobo sunk a lot of money into a limited release device needs to be revised. Kobo didn’t develop this product, its owner Rakuten did.

    This is not an ebook retailer venturing into the realms of electronics. This is one of Asia’s major electronics players, Rakuten, testing a potential growth market (ereaders for ebook consumers) through its newly aquired ebook distributor.

  7. I’m Canadian and Kobo is king here. (Amazon only opened their Canadian Kindle store this past December. Until that point we had to pay a premium price to buy Kindle eReaders here.) I can tell you that my two sisters jumped on this and pre-ordered devices this morning and they already have eReaders – one the Kobo Glo and the other the Sony T1. I’ve been hesitant to pre-order because I already own two of every device Kobo has ever produced and haven’t had my Glo all that long … but who am I kidding? I know I’ll break down and pre-order soon as well.

    Someone on the mobileread forums wondered if this eReader might have been developed with the manga audience in mind.

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