back to article Japanese giant sorry for Kobo launch balls-up

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has been forced to apologise for a double balls-up after first allowing customers to use its Kobo e-reader before it was fully ready and then deleting hundreds of ensuing bad reviews posted to its site after the software failed. Rakuten launched the Kobo Touch on 19 July to an expectant …


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  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    US Patent N° 32134165898461316

    Don't Apple own the patent for that kind of behaviour ?

    1. Goldmember
      Thumb Up

      Re: US Patent N° 32134165898461316

      Hey listen, I enjoy trashing Apple as much as the next guy, but...

      Nope, got nothing. Good comment.

    2. SteveK

      Re: US Patent N° 32134165898461316

      No, this is an evolution of that patent. Apple doesn't bother with the apology part.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's not been mentioned..

    Is that a vast proportion of the bad reviews were actually from Amazon, and hence deleted..

    My Kobo is REALLY good, way better than the Kindle I had before.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. The BigYin

      Re: What's not been mentioned..

      Only complaint about the Kobo Touch I have heard is that the page-turn is over sensitive and that a swipe (rather than a tap) would be better. No idea if that is a setting, not bothered to look (not my Kobo - I am waiting for colour e-ink and then I am going to ditch all my dead-tree magazine subs).

      1. keith_w
        Thumb Up

        Re: What's not been mentioned..

        It's not a setting. I've had my Kobo Touch since January and have read dozens of books on it. Sometimes the page turn is too sensitive, too slow (thus multiple touches resulting in multiple page turns) or non-existant. Today for example I had to power it off and back on (about 15-20 seconds) to get it to start responding again. All things considered, I enjoy the Kobo very much, but I find that the publishers set there prices too high through Kobo. Baen books (science fiction/fantasy) has excellent prices.

    3. tmTM

      Re: What's not been mentioned..

      Mine too, I knew there was ever a problem until reading this article.

      My Kobo touch has performed brilliantly ever since it was bought, so easy to use.

      1. BangBangO

        Re: What's not been mentioned..

        As a matter of fact, the Kobo Reader has a different firmware in Japan. And it is based on brand new software they have never used before (source : They had to do that since it supports Japanese characters, which their current software do not.

        This new software (it is basically a different rendering engine) may be used for all other countries quite soon.

        But I think it explains why the software was buggy in Japan and everything is OK anywhere else.

  3. KroSha
    Thumb Up

    Had a Kobo, was really impressed. For a £50 basic reader, it was excellent.

    I passed it to my sister when I bought a tablet.

  4. JohnG

    Latest firmware removes Cyrillic text support

    Kobo delivers firmware updates without any confirmation for anyone rash enough to connect their reader using the Kobo Desktop software. The latest firmware (not for the Japanese version) removes support for books with Cyrillic text. Luckily, one can find downloads for older firmware and advice on how to downgrade in various online forums. This is especially lucky for me as the wife would not have been impressed if we had headed for a holiday with her reader effectively useless.

    My other annoyance with Kobo is the inability of their web site to stick with the language you choose and instead, forces you work in the language of the country from where you connect.

    Other than this, Kobo's readers work well and are excellent value.

    1. The BigYin

      Re: Latest firmware removes Cyrillic text support

      OK, make that the second complaint. Updates without user authorisation are a very bad idea.

      Then again, it's what people will expect after being spoon-fed by Windows.

      1. tkioz

        Re: Latest firmware removes Cyrillic text support

        I'm of two minds when it comes to auto-update by default on devices. For the power-user like most of the readers of this site, it's highly annoying, and very bad form... for the average person who has zero clue about their devices beyond normal use and don't even understand what updates are it is a good practice.

        I suppose the best practice would be to have the first boot ask you if you want them on (with a great big RECOMMENDED box on yes).

    2. Dinky Carter

      ... forces you work in the language of the country from where you connect

      Generally, Japan isn't very clued up on concepts like the fact that somebody might be living somewhere where they don't speak the lingo. When I was living there (2004-2011) it was actually impossible to buy a non-Japanese version of Windows in Japan (even via download) unless you resorted to slight dodgy, expensive and out-of-date imports with no warranty in Akihabara Electric Town. (The usual retort from J-fans is "so learn the lingo where you live" so before I get downvoted by a certain resident J-fan, yes I did learn, and can speak, read and write, Japanese.)

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Not impressed with Kobo

    Setting up someone else's, the first thing the desktop software tries to do is go into the setup wizard and update the reader which it failed three times in a row. I had to reset and update the reader OTA then try the desktop software again which still insisted it wanted to update. Then I skipped over the setup procedure on the reader itself, exited and ran the desktop software and it decided to let me past the setup wizard and into the main application which was excruciatingly slow, sort of like Kies but 10 times worse.

    I have no idea if it was the rather aged computer or the rather aged me or that's normal behaviour for the Kobo software but if you are tempted to buy one, try it out first.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not impressed with Kobo

      I think that is just you.

      Got a kobo touch in February and would recomend it over paying 30% more for a less functional Kindle any day (same CPU & screen as Kindle, but Kobo supports more book formats and has a micro-SD card slot for those docs, rtfs, pdfs, etc...).

      I followed the instructions and it worked perfectly first time, the first device I had developed a hardware fault and was replced (returned to W.H.Smiths for refund and purchased a full new one with new warrenty) and I had no trouble at all setting up a second time either.

      The same for when my sister got one; she just followed the instructions and she knows next to nothing about computers. Everything went without a problem and she is extreamly happy with it.

      As for the automatic update thing: I have absolutly no real interest in the internal workings of this device any more than the software on my DVD-HD/Freeview player, or my washing machine. I can understand the language issue being anoying, but for all but a fraction of a percent of users asuming the default language will be that of the country where it was purched/installed makes sense (are there regional versions of the PC setup program maybe?).


      As for colour e-ink: I will probably get one after they have been out a year (or two) as I prefer not to by V1.0 of products, but the current 16 grey levels are more than enough for reading books and even a little browsing.

  6. Paul Shirley

    strangely familiar from the Android app disaster

    This sounds disturbingly like the ongoing Android Kobo app trainwreck, where every new version just changes what's broken and feedback is completely ignored. The Play store comments section is also full of suspiciously enthusiastic reviews - they must be using a different app to the one I see, one that works, doesn't bombard them with spam or interrupt their reading regularly with spurious social features. Almost as if someone's being paid to spam endorsements to drown out the complaints...

    I feel lucky now, didn't buy my father the Touch because it felt far too sluggish in the shop but I had assumed it wasn't as deliberately fscked up as the app. A narrow escape, they seem more interested in having an advertising opportunity than delivering a good ereader. FFS they even spam promotional crap into the Android notification bar.

  7. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    I got a Kobo Touch as a Birthday pressie last week. It's my first e-reader.

    I like it. Clean tidy design (how long before Apple decide to sue?) and once it's been setup is easy enough to use.


    Excellent screen, clear and sharp and easy to read.

    Fits nicely in one hand.

    Scalable selectable fonts


    I sometimes have to tap 3 or 4 times before it will turn the page.

    The setup process was long winded and tedious and REQUIRED you to install Kobo Desktop. (I have since uinstalled it and now use Calibre)


    The KoboBooks site is shite.

    1- Their selection of books sucks.

    2- Their "recommendations" generator asks you to select 5 books from what they think you should have read and rate them so they know what you like. I only found 1 book in their stupid system (I mostly read SciFi) but it kept on presenting me with Mills&Boons romances. So, I did some searching and found lots of sites that sell and even give away free E-Pubs. Won't be using KoboBooks again.


    Great device, cheap and works well. Let down by silly setup process and piss-poor website.

  8. Aaron 10

    Lost in translation

    Kobo (kobou) is Japanese for "workshop". Does that mean this was just a work-in-progress?

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