I’ve written a lot about the Kno in the recent months, from the doubts I and others had about building a dual screen tablet with the first iPad in sight to its recent shift from being a tablet manufacturer to focus on software only. Due to the dominance of the iPad this was somewhat understandable.
Also, as a side-note, the Entourage eDGe and its online book store were discontinued as we learned last week.
Kara Swisher already wrote in her article for All Things D back in February that the Kno team will apparently focus on
[...] its robust software and services to offer students on the Apple iPad, as well as upcoming tablets based on Google’s Android mobile operating system and others.
Two months ago, Kno already uploaded a video showcasing the iPad app to Vimeo. You can watch it below.
[iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/22242451" width="600" height="338"]
Compared to Inkling, the Kno takes a somewhat easier way. It looks pretty much as if Kno have simply taken the digital versions (pdfs) of textbook titles that are already available and created an app on top of these with two or three nice features and some social glue. If this is enough compared with the in my opinion more innovative concept Inkling have with their complete customization of textbooks in order to turn them into a new, better learning experience, I don’t know. It is easier to scale for sure and for students the choice of available textbooks might be more interesting than new, innovative technology.
As I am in France, I can’t download the “Textbooks” for iPad app easily to play around with it. It is free to download, students will then make in-app purchases in form of the e-books they need for their studies.
From what I can see through the information on the Kno website and the different reviews, students can organize their textbooks into courses, with a fingertip they can highlight passages and create sticky notes. A probably useful “Kick-Ass Feature” is the ability to download any PDF from the web and to use it in the app and finally the Kno has also added a social feature called “WTF” (Words to Friends) to share with your friends what on you mind.
The whole website has been redesigned for the release and around the new Kno experience. I have to say that I am a bit alienated by the messages. They read a little over the top to be “hip” but I guess, the Kno team thinks this is how their customers speak.
For me, the fact that Osman Rashid is both a co-founder of the Kno and of Chegg is still one of the major assets for the company. I am pretty sure that the more than 70,000 digital textbooks at 30% to 50% off list price are part of his good connections to the major publishers. I also believe that we will see an overlap between the two business models in the near future as the future of textbooks is clearly digital and rentals, as disruptive as they are today will of course die with physical books.