MarkeTING

Tuesday, January 03th, 2012 by hinrich

TING

Traditional print media are faced with strong competition from electronic solutions such as tablet PCs and even smartphones. It does not come as a surprise that printing houses are in search of innovative applications to ensure a future for their business.

One such application is a clever combination of electronics and print media. It is positioned primarily in the educational market. Companies like Livescribe have had already some success. And now there is an interesting struggle on the German market primarily between Tiptoi, Toystick and Ting. All those three products basically refer to electronic devices that produce context-dependent audio. The user directs the device to an area on a printed page (!) and receives further information in the form of pre-recorded explanations, story-related comments, environmental noises, etc.

While I am supportive of the concept - I am myself a Livescribe user for some time - the execution of how such a product is introduced into the market is key. Why? Let me share with you some frustrations and observations I have made over the past days. We got a single Ting for our kids and three books that utilize the features of the electronic audio pen...

• I like the Ting. Among others the rechargeable battery, content for both children and adults, and no requirement to register the device with some company who will either spam you afterwards or sell your address to third parties.
• I have difficulties downloading the audio content. I wonder whether I need to reset the Ting to the factory defaults. Nowhere is it mentioned how to do this or whether this might be necessary or not.
• Sure. Christmas is THE time when sales of such devices may see a peak. Given the number of pens produced there ought to be a possibility to estimate how much bandwidth might be needed to satisfy customer demand for audio content.
• After repetitively hitting F5 to synchronize the device again and again to finally start the audio download, I am completely baffled when an incomplete download starts again from the beginning...
• I am puzzled by the download disruptions. Is the pen not working properly? The manual mentions a reset. I press the reset button. But the problem continues. I wonder about the function of the reset button. Is this "reset" just a restart or what? Soft or hard reset?
• I go to the web site of the Ting to learn more. Hitting the "Disclaimer" tab, I learn that the company has been founded in the tax haven British Virgin Islands. That does not really increase my subjective confidence feeling...
• There is almost no details about the technology that is used.
• I would like to purchase some books. But where is an overview of all books compatible with the device? There is a fancy visual but no simple catalog or search...

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