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Long live the stylus Samsung buys stake in Wacom

first_imgSamsung let it be known this week that it has acquired a 5% stake in stylus maker Wacom. Samsung worked with the Japan-based input experts to design and build the S Pen, a pressure-sensitive stylus for its Galaxy Note devices. This move probably signals an increased role for stylus input in future Samsung devices, and a few years ago that would have been seen as bad news. My, how times change.Steve Jobs famously proclaimed in 2007 as he was announcing the iPhone that no one wants to use a stylus. At the time, and for several years after, it seemed like he was dead on. Stylus-based input looked to be going the way of the dinosaur. Then Samsung took a different approach with the first Galaxy Note. Past mobile devices used resistive screen technology, which made for a mediocre experience, even with a stylus. Wacom’s inductive tech is totally different, though.Wacom is famous for making high-end graphics tablets like the Intuos line. It turns out that inductive technology was a perfect match for smartphones. Users can draw, tap, and use gestures with the S Pen. It’s responsive enough that people seem to genuinely enjoy using the feature. You’d be hard-pressed to find a group of people more enamored with their phones than Note users.Almost universally when an OEM comes out with some device-specific hardware, it doesn’t see wide developer support. Samsung is different, though. This company sells many millions of phones, and has made it clear the stylus isn’t going away. S Pen support has been getting a little traction, and it’s going to pick up now.After the success of the first Galaxy Note, Samsung began incorporating the technology into more devices. There is now a 10.1-inch Note tablet and the new Galaxy Note II. Galaxy S III owners can also buy a similar C Pen stylus separately. By getting a piece of Wacom, Samsung is sending a message that it wants to maintain the relationship. This is no longer just a licensing deal — Samsung is in it for the long haul with stylus tech.last_img

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