Amazon to Face New Rival as Japanese Giant Snaps Up Kobo

It might not be a household name yet, but Japan's home grown version of Amazon, Rakuten, has purchased ebook reader manufacturer Kobo for $315 million, around £200 million.

The acquisition comes shortly after the purchase last month of Play.com and following those of Price Minister and Tradoria from France and Germany respectively.

Ratuken deals in a much broader range of services and products compared to Amazon, including banking, travel, e-commerce, sports and even media.

But an executive for the company told the BBC that it feels an ebook reader will be more than just for selling books.

Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet said "It's about potentially selling other digital goods and it's also about being in consumers' homes with a hardware device".

Rakuten sees Kobo as being more than just an ebook and hints at it being a delivery platform for a number of other services as well, not unlike what Amazon Kindle Fire and Apple iPad tablets are doing.

He also hinted at a price battle which could mean that Rakuten might come out fighting Amazon when it comes to tablet pricing; the Kobo Vox which is out soon is based on Android and also has a 7-inch display like the Kindle Fire and the Nook tablet.