Jul 14, 2020 - Technology

Kano's new modular PC goes global

Ina Fried
A Kano tablet

Photo: Kano

Educational electronics maker Kano is launching an updated version of the Kano PC, its modular $300 Windows laptop.

Why it matters: The educational electronics market has grown increasingly important in the coronavirus era with students stuck at home. Competition has also grown, as companies like Sphero shift energy there and away from the consumer market.

  • Kano has sold computer kits as well as coding accessories, including Disney and Harry-Potter-themed options for a while. With its latest computer, Kano sees an opportunity to also target the low end of the educational laptop market.
  • "The computer, at $300, performs much better due to optimization than many laptops that sell for $400, $500 or more," CEO Alex Klein told Axios.

Flashback: Kano's computers were once sold only as a kit — the learning process of assembling the machine was a key selling point.

  • The new model will be available both as a kit and preassembled and features an upgraded processor, longer battery life and a range of add-on accessories — along with a yearlong educational curriculum that pairs with the laptop.
  • Kano is also partnering more closely with Microsoft, which has invested in Kano and is also helping the company with distribution.

The big picture: Kano is promoting a modular design allowing purchasers to add accessories or replace components instead of buying a whole new computer.

  • The company is offering a series of accessories to start, including headphones, a webcam and mouse. The PC will be available immediately, with the accessories due to ship in August.

Yes, but: Modularity has often proved elusive in tech. PCs were once considerably more expandable, but cost-cutting and a push toward smaller designs have limited those options.

  • Efforts to make smartphones more modular have also struggled. Google and Motorola gave up on Project Ara, which was to have been a truly modular device. Motorola continues to sell its Z line which offers modular add-ons such as cameras, projectors and speakers, but it remains a niche product.
Go deeper