As Amazon and Barnes & Noble continue to vie for the top spot among eReaders (and now low-cost tablets), fellow eReading service Kobo has some news of its own today. The eReading platform, which includes the eReaders themselves as well as various apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows, announced late Tuesday that it has agreed to be acquired by Japanese eCommerce company Rakuten for $315 million in cash.
The deal follows a string of acquisitions Rakuten has made over the course of the last two years, including, most recently, UK-based eCommerce company Play.com for $39.2 million in September, Brazilian eCommerce company Ikeda in June, European eCommerce company PriceMinister for $260 million in June 2010, Buy.com for $250 million in May 2010, and eBank in March 2010.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2012.
With more than 2.5 million eBooks, magazines, and newspapers in its catalog, Kobo has maintained its position as one of the leading eReading platforms in the world. Founded in 2009, Kobo was spun out of Canadian book and toy retailer Indigo and has since pushed out two eReaders—the Kobo Touch and the newly released Kobo Vox, which the company dubs its “social eReader.” Known for its open platform, Kobo apps are available on a wide variety of tablets and phones, including the iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, and RIM’s PlayBook.
“Rakuten is already one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, while Kobo is the most social eBook service on the market,” said Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis, in a statement. “This transaction will greatly strengthen our position in our current markets and allow us to diversify quickly into other countries and e-commerce categories.”
The company says that it will continue to operate out of its Toronto headquarters and will keep its management team and employees.
Founded in 1997, Rakuten has over 10,000 employees worldwide and maintains operations throughout Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas.