What is Intel doing in the education content business? That question is being asked following news late last week that the chipmaker acquired Kno, which provides interactive e-textbooks.
Kno features several hundred thousand college and K-12 e-textbooks starting at $12.99, which the company describes as "the same books, only smarter." Student notes on the textbook can be stored in the cloud and made available from anywhere, and the Kno Advance platform allows publishers to create their own interactive e-books from their flat text titles. The apps are available for iPad, Android, Windows 7 and 8 devices, and the company says it donates $1 of every purchase to "a class in need."
Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Galvin confirmed the purchase Friday on the Intel blog. He pointed to the work of his company's Intel Education unit, which can deploy an open architecture ecosystem of hardware, software and digital content to support rapid technology adoption in the classroom.
Kno Co-Founder Opts Out
Galvin posted that Intel has helped prepare "more than 10 million teachers around the world to bring technology to their classrooms." The Kno purchase, he said, increases Intel's digital library to more than 225,000 titles through partnerships with publishers, and provides "administrators and teachers with the tools they need to easily assign, manage and monitor their digital learning content and assessments."
The full Kno team is reportedly becoming part of Intel except co-founder and CEO Osman Rashid, who also co-founded Chegg. Galvin told news media that he and Rashid had differing views on the direction to take Kno, with Galvin favoring an international presence that was integrated with Intel teams, while Rashid wanted to stay focused on North America.
Intel Capital has been one of the investors behind Kno, which has raised more than $74 million since it began in 2009. Galvin said he preferred to have Kno as part of the Intel portfolio rather than a partner, and was especially interested in the e-book creation platform. There have been reports that Kno was under pressure to offer some return to its investors, many of whom had bought into Kno's original intention to sell hardware for classrooms.
Gaining a Foothold
The chipmaking giant is doing its best to gain a larger foothold in the mobile world, with more success in tablets than in smartphones. Tablets are doing well in the world of education, and Intel has a better chance in a market dominated by Apple's hardware and related software if it can bring the whole package, or big parts of a whole package, to school systems.
Other major tech companies are also maneuvering for this market. Google, for instance, is having notable success penetrating the education market with its easy-to-administer Chromebooks and software. Last month, Amazon, which is building on the success of its Kindle hardware, bought online math tutoring company TenMarks.