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Student Tablet Manufacturer Kno May Drop Its Hardware Business to Focus on SoftwareBy MATTHEW LYNLEY of VentureBeat, February 21, 2011

Student Tablet Manufacturer Kno May Drop Its Hardware Business to Focus on Software - NYTimes.com

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 by filling a niche for tablets that students and other professionals can scribble on with a pen-like device. The idea is to recreate the same kind of tactile satisfaction that comes with smattering massive math textbooks with notes ó with the same precision that a pen and paper offers, but most finger-controlled tablets do not.

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 havenít quite caught fire with students and other professionals because they just arenít a good enough replacement for textbooks. And there isnít any kind of indication yet as to whether the Knoís 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 ó 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 Palmís WebOS mobile operating system and the Motorola Xoom shipping soon Ė and thatís not mentioning the iPad and other existing competitors.

Kno plans to release two versions of its tablet computer ó 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 Andreessenís investing firm Andreessen-Horowitz and others.

Tags: iPad, students, tablet, tablet computer, textbooks, TouchPad, Xoom

Companies: Apple, Google, Hewlett Packard, HP, Kno, motorola

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