updated 05:00 pm EDT, Fri April 8, 2011
Kno confirms Intel 30m deal as it exits hardware
Kno removed doubts on Friday and confirmed it was taking an investment from Intel that would effectively see it get out of direct competition in tablets. A $30 million investment from venture capital groups, $20 million of would come directly from Intel Capital, will see the two work on getting Kno's educational software on to Intel's educational hardware platforms, like the ClassMate line. Intel gets control of licensing for Kno's tablet design and will let other companies build slates based on the 14-inch single- or dual-screen hardware.
Although not said, it's doubtful Intel will be offering licenses of the existing design using an NVIDIA Tegra 2, which runs on the competing ARM architecture Intel has been trying to defeat in tablets.
Kno in turn said it would focus on making software for "multiple platforms and devices" for which Intel was just one. It didn't say which platforms would be first, but in a conversation with TechCrunch, Kno chief Osman Rashid suggested it would be more likely to be Android first than the iPad. Apple had "no real concept of a stylus and was focused too much on finger touch, he said. While Apple chief Steve Jobs had decried pens as being undesirable for the interface itself, Rashid saw them as integral for education just for basic handwriting skills.
"We hope Apple over time sees the value of a stylus in education because kids do need to learn how to write," he argued.
Kno might face problems getting its textbook system on the iPad as well. Apple's demand for a 30 percent cut from publishers could risk squeezing out Kno entirely or forcing it to arrange a deal that might turn off publishers and possibly raise prices to please the companies involved.
Rashid acknowledged that the Kno itself had been disappointing for its brief run of sales and that the "world has changed" in slates. Kno's strong point was software and could adapt to reflect the modern market reality.