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Old 04-05-2011, 03:03 PM   #1
Jennifer
Edge User
 
A Visit to enTourage Systems

My husband drove down to enTourage Systems in McLean this afternoon, and since he's not registered on the Forum, he's posting on my account. Here he is --
-----------

The first time I visited enTourage was back in February 2010. I wrote about that over on MobileReads. I stopped in again this past January, and the same gentleman I spoke with then was kind enough to take time to talk with me again today. Here's the gist of the conversation:

-- the company has gone through two reductions in staff since the first of the year
-- they are still going through the reorganization process
-- as of today, there is a future for the company

We also discussed some of the problems that brought the company to this position. The primary one being the lack of enthusiasm from the education community to any form of ereader or tablet.

enTourage's situation is fluid. They are pursuing strategies to stay afloat. In other words, they are planning for a future and not just sitting around waiting for the lights to be cut off. Of course, being fluid, things could turn around at any moment and go down the drain. So the gentleman cautioned.

I want to add that everyone I've met in the McLean offices has been friendly and courteous. They could have tossed me out on the street today without saying a word, and I wouldn't have blamed them. They're just a classy bunch of people, and that, as well as today's visit, gives me reason to hope they'll find a way through this.

Bill
 
Old 04-05-2011, 03:09 PM   #2
kenjennings
Edge User
 
It would appear to me a company in this condition is not doing R&D. So, since there is even no whisper of a plan for entourage eDGe Version 2 hardware I conclude entourage is toast unless a deep-pocketed altruist and glutton for punishment decides to buy them. They didn't plan for the future, so I don't think they're going to get one.

And I'm usually the optimist around here.

If they had released an SDK with the release of the edge last year, how much edge-specific software would there be right now? Probably a lot. Would we be in a preliminary death-watch for the company now? I think probably not.

Last edited by kenjennings; 04-05-2011 at 03:15 PM.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 03:10 PM   #3
borisb
Edge User
 
Thanks for taking the time to visit and make the post. It does explain satisfactorily everything we've seen to date. There's nothing in what you said to make me doubt the accuracy of the information they shared with you.

I wouldn't want to be in their shoes (and I have been once in the past!) and do wish them all the best in surviving.

EDIT: Looks like my "What went reply" guess was correct (http://www.entourageedge.com/forums/...ll=1#post16751)

Last edited by borisb; 04-05-2011 at 03:28 PM.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 03:27 PM   #4
NiaTrue
Edge User
 
But this begs the question, How can we help? To borrow a phrase from Sarah/Star Wars, I for one welcome whatever new overlords may yet appear on enTourage's doorstep. But perhaps they need help attracting some. Their marketing plan could use some sprucing up.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 03:33 PM   #5
borisb
Edge User
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiaTrue View Post
But this begs the question, How can we help?
In the face of iPad? Clearly not enough students and professionals are being attracted to the eDGe.

Perhaps a $10 million advertising campaign on the national networks might help. Certainly their feature on the Home Shopping Network last Oct 31 generated 14,000 sales in just a few days, which I recall rather surprised and overwhelmed their tech support.

Perhaps a price drop to $200, but that's probably at a loss, and only good if matched with an advertising blitz.

In any case, I'm confident they have and are exploring all options - these are bright people after all. I doubt we could come up with a genius idea they haven't considered.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 03:45 PM   #6
NiaTrue
Edge User
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisb View Post
In the face of iPad? Clearly not enough students and professionals are being attracted to the eDGe.

Perhaps a $10 million advertising campaign on the national networks might help. Certainly their feature on the Home Shopping Network last Oct 31 generated 14,000 sales in just a few days, which I recall rather surprised and overwhelmed their tech support.

Perhaps a price drop to $200, but that's probably at a loss, and only good if matched with an advertising blitz.

In any case, I'm confident they have and are exploring all options - these are bright people after all. I doubt we could come up with a genius idea they haven't considered.
Really? Boris, your lack of confidence is showing. Actually, that isn't what I meant. I was thinking that many of us are academics. How many of us sit on influential boards, committees, etc. at the institutions where we work and play? We may not be The Deciders, but I'll bet many of us are The Influencers.

Obviously, they can't compete wih the ipad not only because of the marketing arm of Apple, but also because the devices aren't comparable. That's why they shouldn't try. Instead, they should redouble their efforts with educators, companies like Blackboard, etc.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 03:58 PM   #7
sarah11918
Edge User
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisb View Post
I doubt we could come up with a genius idea they haven't considered.
But, says the other resident optimist, maybe it's not in the idea department where they need the help. Maybe it's in the execution department. Maybe it's in the warm, semi-technically-literate body department.

I agree with boris' assessment that phrases like "keep afloat" generally aren't highly correlated with "new snazzy products to come from R & D." But we do have some loyal users here (some of us with too much time on our hands) and with guidance and direction from the company, maybe we could contribute something.

This just feels like watching a tv show where one person is totally afraid to tell the other the truth for fear of anger disapproval, or disappointment when the omnipotent viewer can see that it's something they can all easily get through.

(I know that overly simplifies the situation what with money, jobs, the future of a company on the line. I just mean to convey how the situation *feels* right now.)
 
Old 04-05-2011, 04:05 PM   #8
intheclouds089
Edge User
 
Hello,

I'm new here. I just got an pocket edge as a present, but it's still being shipped. So I'm obviously following the discussions about entourage's future rather worriedly. Thanks for the effort of visiting the company!
I think (not only) to read academic papers the combination of epaper and an LCD for coloured figures is great. So far, there are no real alternatives on the market. The NI Adam might become one, but it's still (sort of) under development.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenjennings View Post
If they had released an SDK with the release of the edge last year, how much edge-specific software would there be right now? Probably a lot. Would we be in a preliminary death-watch for the company now? I think probably not.
I completely agree. From what I see in this forum, the edge has a very active userbase. If there had been support to develop missing features or fix bugs, it might have a sprawling open source community.

As for lack of enthusiasm from education: The only reasons that I can imagine are the relatively high price and the rather short battery life. For sure it can do more than the average ereader, but IMHO many might rather settle with a cheap Nook where the battery can last for days.

So my suggestions for a better future (and I'm sure they've all been around here for a while):
- some kind of basic SDK (doesn't have to be perfect or all that user-friendly at the beginning, but somebody IS developing for the edge, right?!)
- advertise it in graduate schools! especially IT graduate programs (they want an SDK!), but also biologists (like me) need to see their figures in colour
- as my PE hasn't arrived yet, I'm not sure where battery life is, but the figures I saw on the page need to get better (>1day w/ epaper only)

That's just my opinion as an outsider/newbie. I hope the company can be saved, but it's pretty late...
Christian

Last edited by intheclouds089; 04-05-2011 at 04:08 PM.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 04:06 PM   #9
borisb
Edge User
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiaTrue View Post
Really? Boris, your lack of confidence is showing. Actually, that isn't what I meant. I was thinking that many of us are academics. How many of us sit on influential boards, committees, etc. at the institutions where we work and play? We may not be The Deciders, but I'll bet many of us are The Influencers.
Sorry - I was assuming everyone here was already doing their best to promote the eDGe in their circle of influence. Sadly, no one I showed my EE and PE to showed the slightest interest

Certainly if someone could influence large institutional purchases, that would be exactly what enTourage needs.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 04:12 PM   #10
Leslie
Edge User
 
I am with those of you interested in helping. I don't have the same credentials as any of you do as far as being on educational boards or even involved with a school for that matter, so I really have no idea how I could help.

I am in a completely different market than education or even the gadget shopper's market. With that said, people who are in my "market" (don't ask me what that market would be, cause I have no idea...) were not targeted for advertising.

No one I know or interact with had even heard of the eDGe, including me, until I "accidentally" came across it in a search for a tablet. Since I have had it, I have heard a lot of comments similar to "Why have I never heard of this?" and "If I knew there was such a thing out there, I would have bought THAT instead of my Kindle/Nook/insert other device here."

Just rambling here. I am sure there was a good reason for not advertising...
 
Old 04-05-2011, 04:17 PM   #11
lorenzoens
Edge User
 
These are good news, and I am happy to read 'em.

I'm a PhD student, my main research topic is Digitaly Literacy, and I teach in elementary school. If I can be of any help for them, I can try.

Lorenzo
 
Old 04-05-2011, 04:24 PM   #12
intheclouds089
Edge User
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leslie View Post
No one I know or interact with had even heard of the eDGe, including me, until I "accidentally" came across it in a search for a tablet. Since I have had it, I have heard a lot of comments similar to "Why have I never heard of this?" and "If I knew there was such a thing out there, I would have bought THAT instead of my Kindle/Nook/insert other device here."

Just rambling here. I am sure there was a good reason for not advertising...
I agree. Living in Germany, I might not belong to the biggest target group, but I haven't seen ads in the popular academic papers and that's a target group.
For sure, the iPad is more popular (and the old one not much more expensive), and not much can be done about that. But it doesn't have Flash, so that should have been a focus. And the iPad has many developers, because... there's a free development kit around. Last but not least, the iPad doesn't have epaper, so I wouldn't want to read on it for too long.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 04:35 PM   #13
StevenP
Edge User
 
Jeniffer\Bill, thanks for taking the time to visit Entourage and posting your experience here.

A far as Entourage staying aloat, without products to sell I don't see how they can make money to do so, unless, of course, they are actively looking for investors for a new product line. Anyways, a redesign of the Edge capitalizing on what is good about it and correcting what is bad in it may very well be Entourage's key to its success. I really do believe the next version could be that perfect device everyone was hoping the first Edge would be.

The fact is, the iPad really doesn't fill the need the Edge was intended to fill.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 04:42 PM   #14
lorenzoens
Edge User
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenP View Post
The fact is, the iPad really doesn't fill the need the Edge was intended to fill.
I'm not sure this is clear enough for some heads into the enTourage. look at this site: no way it looks like a place for educators, teachers & acamemics. It's pretty like everyone else's site.
 
Old 04-05-2011, 04:44 PM   #15
borisb
Edge User
 
Frankly, perhaps now is the time for enTourage to do a full source code dump to the community (other than items like the Reader software that is licensed to them by Adobe, etc.). Even source code written and owned by enTourage and not thought of as "open source". A formal SDK isn't even required by the developer community, as they know what they're doing and could easily try things out on the eDGe directly without an emulator, provided enTourage also fully enables debug and root access. The community would educate itself.

A source code dump could stir up a large enthusiast community, not to mention help speed up all kinds of bug fixes, enhancements and new apps.

I propose that enTourage would retain ownership of the code, but accept "suggestions" from the community where possible and fold that into official updates, sort of the way the Linux kernel works (I believe). Anyone could build their own eDGe distro, but the skittish among us can get our "official" update from enTourage.

This could spur more sales in academic circles to brilliant people that love customizing their device, and the increased prevalence of eDGes on campus could then fan the flames of sales to classmates. A wide open device may go on to encourage other markets to see the device as something that's unrestricted by the arbitrary whims of companies like Apple and the various phone and tablet manufacturers.

This would require a complete 180 degree turnabout by enTourage, but there's nothing to lose at this point.
 
 

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