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Is There an iPad App in Your Future?

As we look at ways to ensure that print remains viable and that we have the right set of services to go with it, becoming an iPad app developer is an interesting avenue to explore that may be easier than you think. Cary Sherburne reviews two options for easy entry into this market.


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About Cary Sherburne

Cary Sherburne is a well-known author, journalist and marketing consultant whose practice is focused on marketing communications strategies for the printing and publishing industries.

Cary Sherburne is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us.

Please offer your feedback to Cary. She can be reached at [email protected].


By Clint Bolte on Nov 01, 2011

The implication to some novices might be that this new Apple iPad app might be in direction competition to the Vistaprints and numerous printers who have been successfully offering automated web2print services. Perhaps that will be possible...but much further down the road.

Currently the operations secret of W2P s/w and Vistaprint is that the client's finished design from the furnished template is now being automatically imposed to fit the printer's distinctive equipment. At this stage these app developers have not suggested they know anything about how to print efficiently the customer's file.


By Cary Sherburne on Nov 01, 2011

Clint, interesting perspective. However, my main point here was that with these applications, any printer can add another service to the mix-- don't just print the brochure, but talk to the client about also producing an interactive tablet version that can be used in various ways to increase the richness and reach of their marketing materials.


By Kevin Keane on Nov 01, 2011

Hi Cary,

superb article and speculation as to where this could go. Thank you!

Printers know that control of a customer's 'content' as once seen in mechanical artboards and camera ready copy, started moving back up-stream out of the hands of the printer and her typesetting department into the hands of the customer along about the time young Mr. Jobs hired Chiat/Day to create an iconic TV commercial called 1984.

The explosion in mobile marketing, the so-called m-commerce, is an opportunity to regain some perceived valued as content shapers. The prepress or perhaps better labeled pre-media department must become the nerve center for every printer great or small.

The scope here is vast -- the premedia team could be helping clients with pURL's one moment, and video-production and Augmented Reality the next. The emerging intelligent print applications like Documobi and Blippar require print in order to come alive on one's iPAD or smart phone.

The idea of the print service provider on the cusp of becoming a marketing services provider seems much more plausible if one can offer a client a fully featured print AND media campaign that utilizes QR codes and actually does resolve to a mobile website, or uses AveryDennison's SmartPoster technology, or the SnapTags approach or NFC or things we don't know of quite yet. So why not iPAD apps as well?

I think all these things can portend a real renaissance for print as the launch pad of a more fully immersive media experience.

And co-incidentally, these opportunities may cause the short-sighted admin folks in too many educational institutions to evaluate more closely any decisions to shut down graphic communications departments -- the premedia department must become the nerve center of the print & graphics provider, and the young folks who will graduate into those jobs need far more training than operation of a small offset press and a table top folder.

Change is scary but also exhilirating. Thank you again for a most provocative article.

Kevin Keane
IAPHC, The Graphic Professionals Resource Network
Check out our IAPHC Facebook page for info about many of the 'brand names' mentioned above!


By Cary Sherburne on Nov 01, 2011

Kevin, thanks for the feedback and for taking the time to post a comment. I agree with you on all fronts, especially the educational one as we build our labor pool for the future. This is an exciting time for those willing to make the investment in learning new things and translating those to new revenue sources. My recent interview with Bill Cole is a great example of someone who is starting those steps now. Who knows, he may add iPad apps in 2012! His story is proof that you can take it in small steps and gain benefits along the way http://whattheythink.com/articles/54646-tri-c-enterprises-ceo-piag-chairman-bill-cole-talks-about-turning-his-business-around/


By Kevin Keane on Nov 02, 2011

Hi Cary

Just a follow-along thought, in fact, perhaps you and the WTT editorial team could kick it around as a story idea.

One of the things Steve Jobs did in his second act at Apple was to utterly re-invent revenue sharing models in several industries, (music is most notorious) including, according to many discomfited magazine publishers, one of our "own" industry segments.

I wonder if perhaps one can trend-spot a new kind of pricing model for the global graphic arts. In a phrase: revenue sharing.

My print industry career started in the then called 'quick printing' franchise segment, and of course our franchised center owners paid a monthly royalty percentage of their sales volume. Not surprisingly, as owners became more successful the royalty percentage became more of a sticking point.

So it is interesting to reflect on how many variations on revenue sharing have come across the transom of my network in recent days.

In late October I attended a webinar for the hugely beefed up Taopix software offering for photo books and related products. Perhaps you saw it at Graph Expo. I was truly impressed and also intrigued that in some iterations, the firm hopes to use a revenue share model.

On 27 October, your colleague Deborah Corn over at Print Media Centre, published a really fine interview with Peter Lancaster about the Documobi intelligent print recognition technology. Peter's partner in Documobi is the estimable Larry Vaughn of Ideal Printers and of course, the guardian angel of Dscoop. Here are just a few snippets from that must-read article:

"The business model is based on providing Printers with an opportunity make Print work harder and smarter and to charge good money for that. The License Fee costs $1995 per year and a piece of Print that is indexed (which could be a billboard or a postcard) will cost $2 per month to hold in the Cloud. When scanned with the free Reader app, a 20 cent charge is made for what we call a ‘STAR’, which includes the Scan, Track, Analyze and Re-Direct for that Print. A minimum monthly charge of $50 gets you 25 indexed images and 100 STARs per month.

Printers will be able to charge application and vertical market specific set up fees, management fees and at least 50 cents per STAR. Documobi also provides other partnership and revenue opportunities for content-creation such as video and mobile websites."

Also at Graph Expo, we saw the rollout of the Keen Systems web 2 print software solutions. This firm too is using a revenue share pricing model:


I was chatting with a competitor firm at Graph Expo and the representative dismissed the Keen Systems pricing model, observing that in these straightened times it was not likely many printers would accept revenue sharing.

On first blush one can appreciate his point, until one recalls that the click charge model is pretty much commonplace in all kinds of segments today.

Consider: on 28 October your colleague, the wonderful Jo Davis at Printweek in Britain, published an interview with Stephan Plenz the Heidelberg Board member in charge of the digital alliance with Ricoh, and Mr. Plenz spoke about Heidelberg's acceptance of the clik charge model thusly:

"PW What about click charges? I know you said before this was something Heidelberg customers don’t really like
SP Today it’s all click charges. Even if they [customers] don’t like it, as soon as you want to sell digital, you have to be comparable to the other offerings, and therefore you have to offer a click charge. What is pretty interesting is there are no two click charges on earth that you can really compare! The offerings from different suppliers are... intelligently variant. But, today, based on this selling model, there are only click charges."

I can recall attending Graph Expo in 2009, Print 09, and having the mission of asking vendors and pundits if the printing industry was ready to accept the cloud computing model. I was assured in no un-certain terms that printers would not accept cloud computing due to the security concerns. "Printers are conservative, they will never give up control of their own digital files."

And yet just two years later, cloud computing was everywhere at Graph Expo.

So I wonder - could revenue sharing be next?

Cheers, Cary, and thanks again for a great article.



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