Rakuten beats Amazon to Japanese e-reader market

Rakuten beats Amazon to Japanese e-reader market

Kobo's parent Rakuten claims to have sold 100,000 devices following a launch of the Kobo e-reader in the country on 19th July, ahead the Kindle. The roll-out has reportedly been beset by technical issues, and problems over the range of titles available to buy from Japan's publishers.

The device is priced at Y7980 (£64.40 or $100.80) and 100,000 devices have already been sold, according to Japan Times. However several problems with the software emerged on launch day, including difficulties with search. The device also had less than 20,000 titles available, despite promising 30,000, and 12,000 of these were from Aozura-Bunko, a free book project.

Rakuten promised that the store would have 30,000 by the end ofJuly; 60,000 by late August; and 200,000 by the end of the year. As of yesterday (15th August) there were only 26,000 available.

According to the newspaper, the company, which had attracted one-star reviews for the device, then hid user reviews on the Kobo Touch website on 23rd July.

Rakuten c.e.o. Hiroshi Mikitani spoke out on several Japanese business media sites, saying that "Kobo's launch was successful". He explained: "I ordered the review page closed because most of those negative reviews are now incorrect as we have already fixed those problems ... Most users are okay. Only 2,000 to 3,000 users complained."

There is still no set date for the Amazon Kindle in Japan. The reporter opined: "I suspect that the reluctance of Amazon Japan to declare a release date for the Kindle shows that they are still having a hard time negotiating with publishers.