Kobo Vox, Touch, and Wireless Digital Readers for Kobo
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Design language for a bestselling suite of digital reading devices
Kobo Inc., an international eReading service with more than 2.5 million digital book, magazine, and newspaper titles, faces the transformation of the book publishing industry in the digital age. In a competitive market with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony, Kobo approached IDEO in order to gain the best possible foothold in a shifting landscape. The design challenge was to create a new suite of advanced reading devices with the best aspects of paperback books—tangibility, portability, and a small footprint. The end result is the bestselling suite of Kobo eReaders, which shares a timeless design language and a signature “quilted” back shell. In 2012, the Kobo Touch eReader was listed as the “Editor’s Pick for Best eReader” by Wired magazine.
The IDEO/Kobo design team’s goal was to make Kobo digital reading devices feel approachable, personal, and sophisticated. The resulting design direction embeds a coherent, consistent aesthetic throughout the suite of eReaders. No larger than a novel, each reader delivers a friendly, tactile experience designed to approximate the experience of holding and reading a paperback book. The team created the Kobo suite to appeal to people around the world through an instantly remarkable brand experience from front to back. While the front of each eReader is designed for the reader’s eyes, the back is designed to create a pleasurable, tactile memory in the hands as the reader holds the device.
By focusing on the intersection of physical and digital interface design, the Kobo/IDEO team was able to create a family of affordable eReaders with clearly differentiated feature sets. The devices appeal to the general market and address distinctly targeted market segments. During the 2011 holiday season, Kobo Inc. saw record sales of its digital reading devices.
The Kobo family includes the Kobo Wi Fi, with a 6” glare-free E-Ink screen; the smaller Kobo Touch, with infrared touch-screen interface, E-Ink Pearl screen, and faster processor; and the Kobo Vox, a 7” Android tablet model with social and digital sharing options.
In September 2012, Kobo introduced a new line of eReaders: The 6” Kobo Glo with front lighting, the new Android-based 7” Kobo Arc tablet, and the 5” Kobo Mini, which comes in the most portable size yet. This new family of products builds on Kobo’s strong design DNA and its signature tactile experience. The new portfolio provides a variety of devices that allow people to engage with the Kobo reading experience anytime, anywhere.
Project date: 2012