E-reading is not a rocket technique. In Germany, but perhaps soon Rakuten technique? This news from the New Year leaves something to be heard: the Telekom wants to leave the Tolino alliance completely – the shares of the German telecommunication is to swallow the Japanese-speaking Rakuten group E-Reading specialist Kobo. A corresponding acquisition of product areas “Reading Service” and “eBook Readers” was the Bundeskartellamt shortly before Christmas logged. The contracts were signed, the remaining Tolino-founding partner had “the decision to divest the Tolino ecosystem to Kobo and make Kobo for new technology partners, supported from the beginning”, explained to Felix Wunderer, Head of E-Publishing at Deutsche Telekom.
Tolino loses the technology partner
Since the Tolino start in 2013, Deutsche Telekom was the technical backbone of the alliance, both in terms of device development as well as cloud connectivity and WLAN hotspots. The large PR acts of the alliance took place in the “Hauptstadtrepresentanz” of the formerly federal company in Berlin. On actual e-reading business Telekom had however from the outset no real interest, the carelessly reared eBook Store “Page Place” was again barely 12 months closed down. However, the Telekom wants the Tolino project as a whole to be seen as a showcase model: “a digital eReading ecosystem was successfully developed against strong US-based competitors,” according to today’s press release.
Successful coup for Kobo
After four years, however, the right time had now come to sell the platform business. Kobo likely enjoy powerful about this bargain: Already been originally Canadian companies had the e-book business of failing Amazon competitors from the classic book industry as well as e-reading Legend Sony here and there over. This time, however, the situation is somewhat different: after all, Germany is one of the world’s most important e-reading markets outside the US and UK, and the Tolino alliance is equated with Amazon in terms of market shares. Here Kobo now has a leg in the door, if the cartel office of the takeover by the end of January agrees.
“Signs of market maturity”?
The remaining partners of the Tolino alliance see the flying change from Telekom to Kobo at least as far as possible outwardly: Readers and book trade would benefit from the new alliance, the market is also still expandable, according to Sikko Böhm of Weltbild. Nina Hugendubel sees the handing over of the ecosystem to Kobo explicitly as a “sign of the market maturity”: “After the Telekom was the perfect start-up partner for us, Kobo is now looking for further growth and especially the holding and expansion of international eReading standards “. Thalia Managing Director Michael Busch also emphasizes that “Kobo and Tolino are committed to an open and dedicated e-reading system”.
What Tolino customers expect
The Tolino Media GmBH, which is owned by the major chain companies Thalia, Weltbild and Hugendubel as well as the Bertelsmann group, is responsible for the content of the existing Tolino customers. The Tolino alliance also includes Libri, the bar district center, as well as the regional chains of Mayersche and Osiander. So, no one will wake up overnight as a Kobo customer, and have a Kobo app on the Reader – the Tolino apps will continue to be linked to the bookstore where you purchased the device. “The connection to the tolino ecosystem will remain with the new technology partner,” assures Telekom. The free use of HotSpots, Tolino App and Tolino Cloud could also be used “as usual”.
The end of the Tolino reader?
Whether there will be another generation of Tolino Readers after the Tolino Vision HD 4, which was only presented in November, is more than questionable. “The successful tolino eReader will be continued and the previous devices continue to be technically supported.” However, Kobo and Tolino readers are manufactured by the same supplier (Netronix) anyway and are technically very strong – in the future Probably only the housing design is different. The E-Reading world thus shrinks to two large players and two large model families: Amazon / Kindle and Rakuten / Tolino-Kobo.
Author: Ansgar Warner