In 2000, ALMAR LATOUR Staff Reporter of the Wall Street Journal ran a short Technology piece, on emerging Bluetooth enabled devices. Amongst the products featured, was the brand new Anoto digital pen:
Magic? No, it’s the Anoto, a new pen that automatically synchronizes everything it writes and can send the things it registers as an e-mail, short message or fax — if used on paper with a special pattern printed on it.
“We’re bringing pen and paper into the electronic age,” says Mr. Fahraeus, who invented the pen and is the founder of the pen’s namesake high-tech wireless company, which is a subsidiary of C-Technologies AB. “It’s a renaissance.”
While some may say the 15 years that followed delivered very tiny incremental advances to the core product offering described above, there has been a recent refocus of the Anoto Group’s direction, based around a hybrid requirement of filling the gap between analogue writing and the digital data capture process. This direction is captured by Anoto’s positioning statement as ‘The Power to Capture it all”
In a new promotional video, Anoto uses a graphical example of convergent technology to illustrate how the Anoto stable of digital writing solutions, covers all potential analogue/hybrid data capture scenarios. These use examples cover paper, devices, displays (pattern enabled screens and monitors) and walls, but interestingly do not provide defined examples of each potential vertical application.
With an every extending vertical integration along the supply chain, Anoto is positioning itself to become the preferred choice, if not the global standard in data capture on any surface.
A key requirement of this strategy is scale. This is supported by SDK licensing, but increasingly by an extensive, experienced and vertically connected partner network.
As Anoto further consolidates (up and down stream) this network is becoming more complex (and potentially more valuable). The ever growing group will soon extend to include partners recently added under the XMS Penvision deal (a business built around Enterprise Forms) and Livescribe (a consumer note taking solution) resellers and distributors.
Overlap between partners segments is unavoidable but should not been viewed as negative: the potential to extend the product offering through building hardware that works interchangeable with any surface data capture scenario is a critical factor in scaling the Anoto business.
As increasing numbers of enterprise customers, integrated ISV’s and end-users begin to see that a smart data capture or surface writing solution is working well within one area of their business or product use, it will be interesting to see how cross promotional and convergent business cases can be developed in co-operation between partners who will all find themselves selling a digital writing component, as part of the same broader ecosystem.