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Amazon buyout may hint at multi-touch Kindle

updated 05:40 pm EST, Wed February 3, 2010

Amazon may have bought Touchco

Amazon has bought small startup to bring touchscreens to the Kindle, a purported insider said today. The bookseller is believed to have bought Touchco to roll it into Lab126, the same division responsible for Amazon's e-book reader. Conditions for the deal weren't mentioned to the NYT in the leak, and neither of the involved partners has agreed to comment.

The six-person firm has been developing a pressure-sensitive multi-touch system that has all the sensitivity of a capacitive touchscreen, like that of the iPad but with different behavior depending on the force applied. It would also recognize an unlimited number of contact points and could recognize other parts of the hand as well as non-organic objects.

Amazon's purchase is likely to be a reaction to the launch of the iPad and an attempt to guard its current dominance of e-book reading with the Kindle. A handful of touchscreen e-readers are either shipping or are coming soon, such as iRex's line, the Sony Reader Daily Edition, the Entourage eDGe and the Plastic Logic QUE, but none of these support multi-touch. The iPad as such promises to be the first true multi-touch e-reader and has the advantage of an already developed touchscreen interface.

How soon a touchscreen would be available isn't known. Touchscreen e-paper is feasible today but is usually limited to relatively slow tasks like single-press interface elements or note taking.

Amazon has been under distinct pressure to compete and lately has been engaged in pricing disputes that, among other things, have led to it offering a much more favorable revenue split to publishers that keep prices low and use the full Kindle feature set.

by MacNN Staff



  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It seems like the Kindle has a lot more

    parts than the plain bezeled iPad. I wonder if the keyboard on the Kindle is more useful than the iPad's virtual keyboard. I think the Kindle is a fairly nice reading device even though people are saying that it's doomed by the iPad. I hope not. I believe it could be updated a bit and when color eInk displays come into use, the Kindle will still have a place for avid readers that need nothing more than a paper book substitute.

  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Another one playing catch up to Apple.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    RE: Playing

    More accurately, Apple is playing catch up to the netbook craze. An iPad is basically a neutered netbook with no lid and keyboard. Can't run full featured applications like an office or graphics suite. Too small to do any serious work, too big to fit in your pocket.

    Tablets have been around a lot longer than the iPad so no, Apple did not invent this form factor.

    It is however, a pretty device and the device will sell. However, somehow I don't think it will be a run away success like the iPod/Phone. Would have liked to have seen the iPad with OSX instead of a locked down iPhone OS.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Playing

    Yep, just another company buying out another company's technology to catch up to Apple's technology acquired by buying out other companies.

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