Mobile

Student tablet maker Kno may drop hardware to focus on software

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The developers behind the Kno, a student-focused tablet computer with a pen input, are in talks to sell off their hardware business and focus exclusively on software, according to tech blog BoomTown.

The Kno is designed to replace textbooks. The idea is to use pen input to recreate the same kind of tactile satisfaction that comes with smattering massive math textbooks with notes, something most finger-controlled tablets can’t offer.

So it does make sense that the developers behind the Kno might want to leave hardware concerns to another company and focus on delivering software that students will actually use. Pen-enabled tablet computers have actually been around for some time now, but haven’t quite caught on with students because they just aren’t a good enough replacement for textbooks. And there isn’t any kind of indication yet as to whether the Kno’s software will buck that trend and finally kill the textbook.

The Kno already has enough deals in the bank to shift its focus to software — the company is working with Cengage Learning, McGraw Hill, Pearson and Wiley, and will begin marketing the tablets at 10 college campuses across the country initially. The hardware market is also growing increasingly saturated, with Hewlett-Packard recently announcing a tablet running on Palm’s WebOS mobile operating system and the Motorola Xoom shipping soon – and that’s not to mention the iPad and other existing competitors.

Kno plans to release two versions of its tablet computer — a single-screen device for $600 and a double-screen clamshell device for $900. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has raised $55 million to date, including the $46 million it raised in its most recent round of fundraising last September. The company is backed by Marc Andreessen’s investing firm Andreessen-Horowitz and others.

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