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Amazon one-upped in RIM tablet ebook duel

Canucks unite

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Although online bookstores Amazon and Kobo both announced support for the BlackBerry PlayBook when it was unveiled on Monday, Kobo one-upped its competitor on Wednesday when it said that its ereader app will come preloaded on RIM's challenger to the Kindle, iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, et al.

"We are thrilled to be extending our extensive relationship with RIM into the tablet space," said Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis in a canned statement.

"I am also excited by the possibilities of the BlackBerry Tablet OS," Serbinis effused, "which will allow us to bring today's bestsellers and classics, as well as other rich content, to BlackBerry PlayBook users."

The Kobo/RIM partnership is an all-Canadian alliance, with both companies based in the province of Ontario — Kobo in Toronto, RIM in Waterloo.

Not that Kobo is provincial. The company claims to have "engaged readers in over 200 countries" downloading content from its collection of 2.2 million ebooks.

The US Department of State, by the way, lists exactly 200 countries in the world, so perhaps Kobo's "over 200 countries" claim is the result of a metric-conversion rounding error. But we digress...

In addition to its broad global reach, the Torontonians have another advantage over the Amazonians. As Serbinis announced at the PlayBook rollout, his company will be the first to incorporate RIM's BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging app into its ereader app.

This capability, Serbinis claims, will "[make] eReading social, and real-time! This will also make eReading with Kobo a ton of fun!" By saying so, he both revealed the depth of Kobo's partnership with RIM and defused the stereotype of the laid-back Canadian. ®

Bootnote

Kobo's partnership with RIM is not its first with a tablet maker. Earlier this month, the company announced that it would be providing the e-book store for Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Tab tablet.

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