Rakuten re-introduces Kobo Android app in Japan after four month rebuild

Rakuten re-introduces Kobo Android app in Japan after four month rebuild

Rakuten has boosted the Kobo brand in its native Japan after it re-introduced the Kobo for Android app in the country, four months after shutting it down to rebuilt it.

E-commerce juggernaut Rakuten bought the Canadian business in November 2011 for $315 million, as part of its strategy to increase its focus on content and Web consumption. Upon launching Kobo devices in Japan in July, the company opted to close down the existing iOS and Android apps in Japan. It promised to launch localized versions which required a Rakuten ID rather than Kobo one and now that time’s come for Android.

As before, the app allows users to buy directly from the Kobo eBookstore and read books on their Android smartphones and tablets. The main change is the switch to Rakuten user IDs which gives the company the potential to integrate the app, its content and user engagement into its other online retail services.

We’re checking in with Rakuten to get an update on the status of the Japanese iOS app.

Japan has a legacy of Web-enabled feature phones, but the likes of Android and iPhone are popularizing an app-centric smartphone experience among mainstream consumers. In the past year, the number of Android devices in Japan has almost tripled as smartphones have reached a 25 percent penetration rate in Japan, according to comScore. The firm estimates that Android owns 64 percent of the market.

The local e-reader scene was also slow to move but is taking off with international involvement. Google introduced its Book service to Google Play in Japan in September when it launched the Nexus 7, and Amazon’s Kindle range arrived in October.

Related: Google partners with top Japanese writers association to let authors know their rights

➤ Google Play [Japan]

Image via sneakums / Flickr

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