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vjoon CEO Andreas Schrader discusses past year, 2011 and developments in tablet publishing

Friday, December 17, 2010

Press release from the issuing company

Mr. Schrader, an eventful year is drawing to a close. What were your personal highlights?

Andreas Schrader: Winning the kress award for "Software Vendor of the Year" is still very fresh in my memory, but our company's 20th anniversary was also a special event. In fact, the two are directly connected. Without the experience gained over many years and the determination to always improve, we would not have been able to bring to market innovations such as the new version 6 of vjoon K4 - and earn distinctions for it. So I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all those who support us in our efforts - our customers, partners, and of course our employees, especially.

From the media sector's perspective, the economic recovery and the buzz surrounding the iPad figured prominently in 2010. How do you see it from the vendor's vantage point?

Andreas Schrader: The past two years were no picnic for any line of business. However, vjoon was in a very stable position during this time, and we even managed to buck the general trend by growing, investing, and hiring R&D, support, and quality assurance staff. The value of these measures is evident in the speed and level of quality at which we are able to develop vjoon K4 further. For example, its integration with the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) enabled us to quickly roll out a first-class solution for professional tablet publishing on the market. This year the iPad and the like have helped the media industry enjoy an unexpected boom. As always at such an early stage, opinions differ about the potential of all this. While some see digital magazines as the panacea for publishing houses' marketing woes and even expect a renaissance for the media industry, others are more skeptical and less euphoric in their predictions. Personally, I believe tablet magazines show great promise, but it will take a lot more effort and ideas to live up to expectations. Apps are likely to look very different in two years time than they do today. At the moment, there is still a lot of experimentation going on and standards have yet to be determined.

What does a publishing house or corporate publisher seeking to produce a tablet app need?

Andreas Schrader: A good concept, because the reader expects more than just a PDF enhanced with videos and links, or a website-like app. The reader wants added value beyond that offered in print and on the web. The digital edition has to make the most of a tablet's possibilities, not only in terms of newsworthy content, but also regarding advertisements that target a specific audience with pinpoint precision, and e-commerce as well. The apps we have seen to date are merely scratching the surface. In time, we will have a broader base of experience and evaluable data to draw on, but complexity in production will increase by the same measure. That's why I advocate end-to-end processes and automation - and right from the start at that. Standards will play a major role, both in production and at the user's end.

Why makes processes and automation so important?

Andreas Schrader: Let's look at the logistics sector where the strategy of supply chain management has been put into action for years with great success. End-to-end processes from manufacturing to delivery ensure cost efficiency and significant savings. We believe these industry standards can be applied to publishing. So we conducted research to find out why cross-media publishing is still so inefficient and how publishers deal with the problem of mounting complexity, for example, the diverse page formats and platforms for tablets. We found that many lack end-to-end processes and automation. Publishers need to reuse contents and automate all the routine tasks they can, thereby by gaining greater leeway for creative processes. Simply converting pages to the respective formats - that task alone takes so much time. This is why we developed the Unified Publishing Process with the benefits of successful supply chain management in mind. It is a method that enables process-driven, highly automated production of editions for any number of the most diverse output channels and tablets - and if desired, across all channels and publications. The philosophy behind it is also reflected in the integration of vjoon K4 and the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. We extended DPS' feature set with process control and automation capabilities, thereby optimizing the production of tablet editions in workflow-based, professional publishing environments.

Why did vjoon focus on Adobe DPS from the start rather than developing a proprietary solution?

Andreas Schrader: Despite all the confidence in our company's know-how and with due respect to the efforts of our competitors, we believe that only an enterprise such as Adobe is in the position to establish an enduring standard in this field, as it has so impressively demonstrated over the past decades: Witness PostScript, PDF, and Flash. In the end, pervasiveness and acceptance all comes down to standards, and the same goes for the marketing of contents. Initially, a proprietary solution may put you in the comfortable position of being able to respond more flexibly to individual wishes. But a company like Adobe focuses on a far bigger market and a longer-term strategy than smaller software vendors are compelled to do. On the surface, one might gain the impression that an enterprise such as Adobe moves too slowly, and that a smaller company is able to rack up some impressive initial successes. But a closer look reveals that the Adobe DPS is backed by a comprehensive range of capabilities. Encompassing everything from hosting to e-commerce and analytics, these enterprise services constitute an inclusive and certainly unrivaled offering. On top of all that, there is Adobe's extensive experience with software for creative activities. The bottom line is that Adobe keeps my investment as safe as it can be. And the same goes for the integration with vjoon K4. The architecture of K4 is by design perfect for integrating new output channels. Our close alliance with Adobe afforded us deep insight into the DPS's development from its early stages on, and we were able to track and influence the course of this development. This is evident in the very nature of the integration. For years to come, it will retain an edge over all subsequent interfaces between publishing systems and the Adobe DPS. And that benefits our customers first and foremost.

Can publishing houses and corporate publishers already use it for their productions?

Andreas Schrader: Definitely. Some of our customers have been publishing with the Adobe DPS for quite a while now. For example, just recently the K4 customer Condé Nast announced that the company uses the Adobe DPS for its entire portfolio of magazines. As far K4 goes, all the necessary features are already part and parcel of the latest version - incidentally, at no extra charge. We hold the K4 functions up as the standard for a modern publishing platform. I strongly recommend that anyone aiming to develop a tablet edition get in touch with our integration partners. They will provide authoritative and comprehensive advice and shepherd the project along.

What's in store for vjoon and K4 in 2011?

Andreas Schrader: Without divulging our development roadmap just now, I can say that we have some exciting innovations on the agenda. At the same time, we will of course continue putting forth every effort to make tablet publishing as easy and efficient as possible. There are many other things to do beyond catering to the iPad and the like. For instance, we just launched the K4 Distributed Enterprise System, which connects remote locations so that files can always be processed and edited at local network speed. This saves our customers time and money, especially when they're dealing with layouts that feature many pictures or sizable videos. And we will continue putting the Unified Publishing Process into action and extending vjoon K4 with functions that live up to these demands and make working life easier for users. So our customers can look forward to some interesting releases in the year ahead.


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