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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 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 (opens in new tab) 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.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.