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Update: Intel has clarified some aspects of this story. Find its statement below.
Intel seems hot for ambitious education tablet startup Kno. Intel Capital is leading a new $30 million funding round in the company (along with Conde Nast owner Advance Publications), and Intel will also license Kno’s hardware design — effectively taking over its hardware burden — Intel will consult on the tablet’s hardware design, All Things Digital reports.
Now Kno, which originally aimed to kill the traditional textbook with its pen-focused tablet hardware, will be able to focus exclusively on its software for the iPad and Android tablets. It certainly makes more sense for Kno to consider supporting the more popular platforms instead of forcing users to adopt its own.
The news follows a previous report that Kno was looking to sell off its hardware business.
Sources told All Things Digital that Intel will share Kno’s hardware blueprints with its manufacturing partners, and Intel won’t be building any tablets on its own. Intel could conceivably use the Kno’s hardware designs — which include single and dual-screen models that it was aiming to sell for $600 and $900, respectively — to let other hardware manufacturers build a family of educational tablets. The key with the deal is that Kno itself will no longer have to worry about hardware.
Kno’s hardware ambitions were a stretch from the start, but now that the tablet market is quickly getting crowded, it would have had little chance with its original plans. The company will now focus on its textbook delivery and annotation software. Kno is already working with publishers, including Cengage Learning, McGraw Hill, and Pearson and Wiley, to build up its content.
Intel will chip in $20 million in the funding round, according to sources, and Advance Capital and previous investors will fill in the remaining $10 million. The $30 million round will sit atop Kno’s previous funding of around $56 million. Previous investors in the company include Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Mike Maples and Ron Conway.
Update: Here’s Intel’s statement:
Intel is not taking over the design business or design work for Kno and we will not be creating or providing blueprints for OEMs. The collaboration is comprised of Intel’s engineers providing consultation on power management, graphics, display, systems integration, etc…to ensure a great Intel Architecture-based user experience for the student. Intel does this type of consultation for a variety of our customers.
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