12-21-2012. For some people ominous times are ahead of us.

For the rest of us, it isn’t, unless you see the latest takeaways as examples of what is to come or more importantly what hasn’t – which is really a could be doomsday to many vendors – unless they wake up!

Authoring Tools

In my newest directory, I have 138 vendors. Of those:

  • 45 are SaaS based
  • 37 support m-learning
  • 12 output to HTML5
  • 11 desktop authoring tools work with Mac OS
  • 4 desktop authoring tool vendors work with Windows 8

No need to panic or maybe you should

Let’s see Microsoft has only been announcing the coming of Windows 8 for several months, but as usual desktop authoring tools are behind the times. Nothing like keeping their track record of missing the signs. This is nothing new when it comes to waiting until after the end of days to wake up.

I am hearing from some vendors that they are having issues with Windows 8 and that Microsoft typically makes it difficult to really make it work. Here is the thing, you have the money and resources to offer collaboration, templates and avatars. Surely, you can get it done.

Articulate has told me that they have an issue with Windows 8 for both Storyline and Studio, but are working on fixing it. At least they are doing something. Desktop authoring tool vendors who realized this thing was fast approaching are:

  • Articulate
  • cm-Group
  • Techsmith – Camtasia 8

Speaking of holding in a pattern, here is a list of vendors – SaaS and desktop who output to HTML5 (please note: that this does not include authoring tool vendors whose product can be seen on a tablet, including the iPad – which is achieved thorough a web browser)

  • dominKnow Claro
  • Articulate Storyline, Articulate Studio 13 when launched will be able to do so too
  • iSpring Pro but it only converts PPT to HTML5
  • Adobe Captivate 6
  • cm-Group Luminosity
  • Epic GoMo Authoring tool
  • Callidus Cloud – Rapid Intake Authoring Suite
  • Kookabura Studios – but you need their AppCobra product
  • SoftChalk 7
  • Lectora Inspire
  • VIDIZMO
  • Adobe eLearning Studio but it is with Dreamweaver and you need to download the HTML5 kit

E-Learning Vendors and Apps

I’m not sure if it is going to take a predication by the late Edgar Cayce or Nostradamus to see the need to have native apps for people to download with the numerous m-learning, Mac store or Windows 8.

While vendors seem more to be interested in trying to get their product on such tool support lists with Intel or Salesforce.com, they are just are failing to grasp the enormous potential with apps.

Do the Math

  • Apple – 736,00 apps (as of Nov 2012), reportedly Apple has approved 1 million apps
  • Google Play – 700,000 apps
  • Windows 8 – 20,000 apps (not bad since it launched two months ago), Microsoft executives are reporting that by Jan. 2013, 100,000 apps

Total number of downloads

  • Google Play – 25 Billion (Sept 2012)
  • Apple – 35 billion (Oct 2012)

Free apps

Latest projections indicate that nearly 90% are free apps.

E-Learning Apps

I’m still working the numbers and will update in December, but excluding apps for kids – which is quite prominent, the number of e-learning apps in the various genres is less than 65. Talk about impressive – NOT!

Doomsday Scenario #2 – Mobile, what’s that you say?

In my latest survey on m-learning, end users are screaming on the following:

1. My LMS must include m-learning for tablets

  • 44% Absolutely
  • 44% say “I think so”

2. I want my LMS to offer on/off synch for mobile

  • 72% said yes

3. How satisfied are you with the current state of m-learning with tablets?

  • 39% somewhat unsatisfied
  • 22% very satisfied

4. TinCan should be a requirement for my LMS

  • 44% Yes
  • 50% Unsure

5. How important is it for your authoring tool to output to HTML5?

  • 67% extremely important

Okay, now let’s go back to the number of authoring tool vendors who currently output to HTML5

8.7%!

Doomsday scenario #3 – End users want scalability, but we can’t afford to offer it

A few years ago, there were a handful of LMS vendors who offered an e-commerce model for those folks who sold courses to anyone, whether it be B2B, B2C or even in the educational setting.

Of those, it was extremely rare to find vendors who publicly offered this option.

Nowadays finding LMS vendors who enable this capability are nearly zero. Sure you can buy the system itself and do what you want -as in you actually own the thing – rather than leasing it which is really what you are doing, when you “buy” it.

Offering the e-commerce model just isn’t happening, but it should.

If you have never heard of an e-commerce model in its true essence, here is how it works

  • LMS vendor provides you with their system for free
  • LMS vendor allows you to set your own cost for courses, content, products, etc.
  • LMS vendor takes a small percentile of each course, etc. sold – some will say a minimum of $5 or X percentile
  • The more courses, etc. sold the more money the vendor can generate

Benefits

  • Higher revenue potential. Let’s say that my system costs 15K, but the client for example, is going to sell their courses to college students or association members or whomever.

They forecast 5,000 in year 10,000 in year two. In the end, they actually sell 25K courses in year #1. And let’s say that each course is $30.

What would you rather have – a client who goes with Moodle or one who stays with you? You may say to yourself, “well for 15,000 users our system will run them 65K, which is better for us”. But in real world, they are unlikely to go with your system if it costs that number and only goes up with more buyers.

  • You crush the free open source model for people especially in the education sector – higher education or those who sell to B2C or association members
  • You do massive damage to those who offer unlimited users, because the potential revenue can be quite high
  • Your market share in your verticals could be higher than even your best projections

Yeah, it’s risky, but e-learning business is a risky endeavor to begin with and if you haven’t figured out that yet, perhaps it is time to re-consider your business in this space.

You want to play it safe? Move to a warm climate and offer putt-putt.

Why would a vendor even want to take that risk?

  • There are more customers today who are seeking a system that will enable them to sell courses, content, etc. to the masses
  • More customers are going subscription based than in the past
  • More customers do not have the outlay to pay $$$$ for users that may exceed 10,000 in a short time frame
  • More customers are going multi-tenent or extended enterprise with their own customers
  • The biggest reason people go with Moodle and other open source freebies is that they can offer unlimited # of end users without paying through the roof

Bottom Line

If there is one thing I have learned, live is full of risk. Yeah, the world could end tomorrow. But, what if it doesn’t? What then?

Will you hope that your authoring product builds market share even though it doesn’t offer m-learning?

Will you assume that HTML5 output is just a fad, like the pet rock?

Will you assume that end users are not seeking apps for their tablets or other mobile devices?

Will you allow early adopters in this space to get out ahead of you and steal your customers or potential customers?

Will you sit by and wait?

I won’t and I believe neither will your audience.

Unless they are in their subterranean shelter waiting for 12-21-2012.

Which I am going to guess, their not.

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