updated 06:15 pm EDT, Wed September 29, 2010
RIM to use Kobo on PlayBook to stymie iPad
Kobo this evening revealed that a version of its eReader app will be preloaded on the BlackBerry PlayBook from the start. RIM said picked the eReader hardware maker as Kobo had an international e-bookstore and was adept at customizing for specific countries. The bookseller in turn said that a WebKit browser made it an ideal fit since it uses the same engine for many of its existing apps, including those on the iPad.
All of the customization and sync features from other devices will carry over, Kobo said, though it would have a unique social component. Like the app promised for BlackBerry smartphones, Kobo on the PlayBook should support BlackBerry Messenger as a platform (demonstrated below) to allow chat and other real-time discussion of books. The bookstore already has access to about 2.2 million titles, one million of which are public domain or otherwise free.
The tablet is due to ship to the US in early 2011.
A partnership between the two Canadian companies suggests RIM is eager to compete with the iPad by offering at least one guaranteed bookstore in as many countries as possible. While it will have an Amazon Kindle app from the start, the PlayBook will have a significant uphill battle versus Apple. The iPad is considered one of the most universally accessible e-readers as it has e-reader apps from virtually all major bookstores, even though many have their own devices competing for attention.
The RIM approach is somewhat similar but broader than that for the Samsung Galaxy Tab, where the Kindle app will be a standard feature but primarily for US users.