Rudolf? Blitzen? Who will go down in history in the holiday e-reader market?

Lest you think that last month’s announcement of Amazon’s new heavy-hitting team of Kindles means it has a monopoly on the market, Kobo has come out swinging with the news of its Vox tablet. Playing up the more social aspects of the ereader, Vox offers social media features that make sharing while reading all the more intuitive, touting itself as being inspired by Vox Populi, the voice of the people. This theme may also hold true as the Vox offers expandable memory and a closer-to-standard “open Android” that can be easily customized. The Vox also enters the ereader arena amidst talk about Amazon’s dropping profits as it sells the Kindle Fire at a loss, in addition to rumors that many sold Kindles are not in use.

Still, with many Kindles already preordered, Amazon has a clear competitive edge as Black Friday swiftly approaches. And while the Kindle and Vox’s lower prices are expected to loosen Apple’s grip on the holiday shopping season, industry expert Tony Bradley of PCWorld asserts that the market MVP isn’t going anywhere fast. Add to all of this talk of a new Nook on the way, and it’s a sprint to the 4th Quarter finish line this holiday season.

So what device will be the ultimate ‘It’ gift? Read on and decide:

“Let’s keep it real. Android tablet makers may have ramped up production this past quarter, and it may be true that Android tablets account for 27 percent of the tablets manufactured during the past quarter, but what counts is how many have actually been purchased and are being used in the real world.

When it comes to that stat it’s no contest–Apple owns the market for now. We’ll see if the Amazon Kindle Fire can put a dent in that at all.”

Tony Bradley, (10/22/11)


“You already know that I thoroughly enjoy reading ebooks with the Kobo eReader Touch and now we see the Kobo is challenging Amazon’s upcoming Kindle Fire with the Kobo Vox eReader available now for pre-order for $199.99 with availability staring 28 October. Like the Amazon Kindle, the Vox eReader is both an ebook reader and a tablet with a custom user interface built on Android. Social networking integration has been a focus with the Kobo ereaders and the Kobo Vox is inspired by Vox Populi, the voice of the people, with extensive social interaction. You will find Kobo integrates Facebook Ticker and Timeline to enable reading discovery and Pulse to find book recommendations. While I love the Kobo eReader Touch device, it is going to be a major challenge for Kobo to compete with the Amazon ecosystem and brand. Then again, they have shown before that they can make lovely hardware and compete in the dedicated ebook reader market.”

Matthew Miller, (10/19/11)


“The big difference, though, is that the Vox comes with a much-closer-to-standard build of Android (based on Android 2.3, Gingerbread). It has access to ‘an app store’ with over 15,000 apps and the marketing copy trumpets ‘The Freedom of Open Android’ and that the Vox offers ‘unencumbered access to Android 2.3 so you are free to customize your experience to suit you best!’

The Vox also comes with Kobo’s Pulse social reading experience that I ranted against a while back. The Kobo Vox is available for pre-order now and is set to ship on October 28th, so it’ll be in consumers’ hands a few weeks before the Kindle Fire.”

Peter Smith, IT World (10/20/11)


“Peter Rojas, who has founded some of the largest technology based websites on the Internet, has expressed his expectations that the Amazon Kindle Fire will be the largest selling product during the holiday season. He said that the low cost will make the tablet an option for even those users who already own an Apple iPad, which is much more expensive, to buy it as a second tablet for their homes.

He drew a parallel with people buying more than one computers [sic] with the advent of netbooks which are available at much lower prices. The sales of the tablet are expected to reduce the profitability of Amazon initially as the company is selling the tablet at close to its manufacturing price or at a small loss.” (10/23/11)


“Kobo’s Vox keeps it in step with Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with all three companies now offering touch-screen eInk eReaders and 7-inch touch-screen Android tablets.

And that’s a point Kobo has made before — it will match its rivals and won’t be left behind as it competes to be the third-place eReader with sights set on growing in stature and sales.

‘We’re gunning for Amazon,’ Kobo Chief Executive Michael Serbinis said in a May interview with the Times’ Technology blog.”

Los Angeles Times (10/19/11)


“It seems that the familiar Amazon marketing strategy of releasing a hardware device at around a breakeven point financially, and giving shoppers access to their wide range of digital content which is high-margin and low price is working in the tablet marketplace as well as it has in the eReader market. A recent tech tear-down showed that the Kindle Fire Tablet costs approximately $206 to manufacture per unit. Selling at a retail price of $199, which is $200 to $400 less than the competition’s 7 inch models, means Amazon is losing $7 per unit.” (10/ 17/11)


“There’s finally a legitimate reason to buy the new-ish Sony PRS-T1 Reader: You can hack it and install the Kindle Android app. I kid. However, there is a new hack for Sony’s least expensive ereader that allows for root access, effectively opening up the device to all sorts of Android uses. This of course includes the Kindle app.

Apparently it’s a relatively easy mod as The Digital Reader notes it’s relatively foolproof. Just download the installer to the reader and give it time to do its thing. After that, the reader will reboot and you’ll be able to play Fruit Ninja on an inexpensive eink screen.”

Tech Crunch (10/24/11)


“‘Great looking books.’ That’s what Amazon is promising to deliver with Kindle Format 8 (KF8) — a new, HTML5-based file format for Kindle books. According to the company, KF8 will allow publishers to produce picture books, comics and graphic novels with greater ease, thanks to the platform’s rich formatting capabilities and design elements. In fact, this format brings more than 150 new formatting tools to the table, including fixed layouts, nested tables, sidebars and Scalable Vector Graphics, among others. It should be noted, however, that audio and video are not included on the list of supported HTML tags and CSS elements.”

Amar Toor, (10/24/11)