Monday Roundup: italki, busuu, Toys R Us, Qwiki and the Kno

Today’s MRU could be dubbed “the tablet edition” as four out of five stories I would like to talk about are around tablet devices. I think this is another sign how quickly tablets have become part of our hardware landscape.

Therefore today we take a look at some changes for teachers using the italki marketplace, busuu’s new iPad apps, Apple planning to sell iPads at Toys “R” US, news from the “information experience” platform Qwiki and another $30 million funding round for the Kno led by Intel and Condé Nast.


Let’s start with the non-tablet topic first. Last week I received an email from italki which had two topics on the agenda. Number one was about pricing. The new minimum pricing for sessions on italki is now 30 ITC, the maximum price is 800 ITC. If I remember correctly that is a minimum of $3 and a maximum of $80. According to the message this is due to

… session prices that are (relative to average) too high or too low tend to have problems.

The second point on the agenda is a change in the display of active teachers. Other than competitors in the language learning platform / marketplace vertical italki leaves the choice up to the teachers, if they want to be displayed as “actively looking for students” or if they don’t want to be listed on the service for the moment.

busuu iPad apps

After one million downloads of the iPhone / iPod Touch apps in four months busuu now launched a new series of language learning applications for the iPad. Usually iPhone apps also run on the iPad, they are simply scaled according to the screen size but native iPad apps still look better on the bigger screen. With the launch of the iPad 2 a couple of weeks ago and no sign of any competitor gaining traction on the market, I think it’s a good move to build apps for the bigger device.

Which brings us to the next story.

iPads at Toys “R” Us?

According to Fast Company, Apple is in talks with Toys “R” Us to sell iPads alongside the more classic toys and games on the shelves. And some recent data from the analysts at Piper Jaffray seem to underline that strategy

In its survey of 4,500 school kids, the analyst firm discovered that 22% of teens have a tablet PC already, and 20% more plan to buy one inside the next six months.


Qwiki, the winner of last year’s TechCrunch 50 event raised $1 million from the Groupon founders and is close to finally launching its iPad app, something users have been waiting for.

As Doug Imbruce, the CEO of Qwiki tells TechCrunch in a recent interview, the iPad is the natural habitat of Qwiki and will boost the experience using the service a lot. As Qwiki wants to change the way we consume information, may it be trivial like the weather forecast or educational like the history of the American Civil War, it makes a lot of sense to tie this to the new information consumption device, e.g. the iPad.

the Kno

Now we finally kno(w) who the hardware manufacturer of the Kno tablet will be: Intel. Together with Condé Nast Intel lead a new $30 million funding round which brings the total funding of the startup to about $76 million, if I counted correctly.

I still don’t get the actual use case for yet another tablet competing with the, at least momentarily, all mighty iPad. Especially with the rumors that in fall we will see the iPad 3. Kit Eaton has an interesting theory, though. Maybe Intel is planning to relaunch its Classmate PCs and maybe Condé Nast as a publisher is thinking about high class, two screen magazines. Speculations, of course but nevertheless worth a thought.