Well, maybe not quite, but the company has been sold to Intel, apparently at a knock-down price, losing millions of dollars for its investors. Announcement from Intel here. John Galvin of Intel says of the purchase:

The acquisition of Kno boosts Intel’s global digital content library to more than 225,000 higher education and K-12 titles through existing partnerships with 75 educational publishers. Even more, the Kno platform provides administrators and teachers with the tools they need to easily assign, manage and monitor their digital learning content and assessments.

Kno’s started out as a hardware company, with a large tablet designed specifically for textbooks. But then the iPad came out, so Kno switched their focus to software and the provision of a content platform. Their app is available for iOS, Android and Windows, and they have over 200,000 titles available. Their offering is based on the belief that a textbook on a tablet should be more than just a digitised version of print – an approach we advocate, of course. Kno’s extra features include the ability for teachers and students to track progress, annotate, and share what they’re doing. The ebooks can include multimedia and basic interactive quizzes. The platform itself is cloud based, so work is synced across all devices. Here’s their promo video:

Intel are trying to become a player in educational technology, and have launched their own education tablet. So, this acquisition gives them a reasonably comprehensive solution – hardware, software and content, plus the publisher partnerships that Kno already had. It’s hard to see how the Intel tablet could take on the mighty iPad in education, but having the Kno software and textbook catalogue as part of the package should certainly help a bit, especially given the fact that Apple’s iBooks haven’t yet taken the education market by storm. Of course, for Intel, this is also part of a broader attempt to remain relevant in an era of mobile devices powered by non-Intel chips – anything they can do to chip away at the total dominance of Apple and Android tablets will help.

The fact that Kno have sold out (apparently for only $15m, after having had $100m of investment) suggests that they hadn’t found a way to build a sustainable and profitable business out of e-textbooks. It’ll be interesting to see how other e-textbook services like Inkling do from here on. Is there really any hope for proprietary ebook platforms in the long term when the competition is Amazon, Apple and Google?

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