The headline would make more sense if it read “Android Market Access,” as opposed to “Google Play Access,” but that wouldn’t be technically correct thanks to the Android Market’s rebranding. In any event, Kobo’s Android-powered Vox eReader - the company’s answer to the B&N Nook or Amazon Kindle – is today announcing (at last!) full access to the official Android app store, or whatever you want to call it. The colorful eReader tablet has a lot going for it, including a low price point (just $179.99, currently), but until now was only offering a limited, “curated” collection of some 15,000 Android applications. Today, it gets 500,000 apps.
The Google Play support also brings music and movies to Kobo Vox users, too. (Oh, I guess the headline does work, after all).
The move comes on the heels of Kobo’s recent announcement that it is also taking on competitors Amazon KDP and Barnes & Noble’s PubIt in the free, self-publishing space. The Kobo “Writing Life” platform launched in early June with beta testers, as a more open alternative using ePub files, the ability for authors to set books to “free” at any time without exclusive agreements in place, and with 10% higher royalties.
Kobo also notes that other Google services, including Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Calendar and Contacts, work with its Vox tablet, too. And U.S. customers will have access to Google’s Music store, and can store up to 20,000 songs.
The Google Play integration will arrive in the next software update for the Kobo Vox, which requires an internet connection to download.
Headquartered in Toronto, but now owned by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, Kobo has 8 million users in 190 countries worldwide. Earlier this month, Kobo announced new momentum numbers, citing triple digit growth, growing its eBook downloads by 400 percent, eReader sales by 160 percent, and eReaders by 280 percent year-over-year. The company also noted that it was poised for an “aggressive year of expansion.” Kobo would not reveal its sales numbers, however.