Acquisition to Spark Kindle Reboot?

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Kindle users will be interested to read that Amazon is set to tackle the challenge of the iPad head on with their rumoured acquisition of Touchco, a start-up based in New York that specialises in touch-screen technology. Upgrading the Kindle will the main objective as they merge Touchco’s technology and staff members into its Kindle hardware division, Lab126, based in California.

The New York Times is pretty certain Amazon is in reach of taking over Touchco.

The interest of Amazon was said to be piqued by a technology Touchco uses called interpolating force-sensitive resistance, which it puts into displays that can be completely transparent and could cost as little as $10 (€7.20) a square foot. According to a New York Times article, “The capacitive touch screens used in the iPad and iPhone are considerably more expensive. Unlike those screens, the Touchco screens can also detect an unlimited number of simultaneous touch points.

The NYTimes are quoting “a person briefed on the deal” as their source on the story. An Amazon spokeswoman, Mary Osako, said the company would not comment on speculation. Ilya Rosenberg, a Touchco co-founder, declined to comment as well.

Touchco, which began as a project at the Media Research Lab at New York University, has roughly six employees and had not yet turned its technology into a commercial product. The terms of the deal were not known.

They add, “The company designed its technology to work well with full-color LCD screens, similar to those used in the iPad and Hewlett-Packard’s coming line of tablet PCs. The technology could allow Amazon to introduce a full-color touch-screen Kindle, raising the question of whether the device’s current displays, which are made by a company called E Ink, will play a role in the next round of reading devices.”

The acquisition “would suggest Amazon is looking to expand its platform perhaps beyond e-readers to encompass more functionality and more content,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Lazard Capital. “It also could help them address some of the form-factor issues with the Kindle,” allowing it, for example, to replace the physical keyboard with a virtual one, he said.

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