Another day, another message in my inbox touting a "revolutionary" new educational product. Yes, I realize that sounds flippant. And maybe, this time I'll be proven wrong. Maybe.
After all, the announcement today was about Kno, a dual-screen tablet that has secured $46 million in its latest round of financing from Andreessen Horowitz, which for those unfamiliar with Silicon Valley investments, is a Very Big Deal (in terms of dollar amount and in terms of investors involved).
We are strong believers in the disruption of untapped markets and education is a prime example of a sector in need of digital innovation, said investor Marc Andreessen in today's press release. Kno is poised to lead the market with its digital textbook and learning platform and we are excited to be part of the revolution.
Kno combines the two-panel, touchscreen hardware with software designed for education: textbooks, course materials, note-taking apps, Internet access, support for HTML5 and Flash video. Kno has a stylus (a feature I like, but then again, I still use pen and paper for note-taking) and you can write directly onto the device and onto textbook pages.
There's no word yet on the price of the device, although the company says that "given the price of textbooks, the Kno will pay for itself when compared with buying traditional textbooks." Textbooks will be available to download, in an app store presumably, and as Kno is recruiting third party developers, it will be interesting to see what other apps are created for the device (will developers want to work on yet another platform?)
While certainly the market is "hot" for e-books and for tablets, it remains to be seen if merging the two into one device will be successful (let alone revolutionary). Osman Rashid, the co-founder of Kno, is also the co-founder of the textbook rental site Chegg -- a site that is certainly challenging the way in which the college textbook market operates. But I'm not sure that one disruption ensures another.
Look for a product launch later this year. The date of the revolution TBD.