Livescribe expands functionality, but only for Apple users

One year after unveiling its first Wi-Fi enabled smartpen, capable of recording audio synched with written notes that are digitally pushed to the cloud, Livescribe has increased the functionality on its flagship device with the launch of the Livescribe 3.

Billed by the general manager of Livescribe Australia and New Zealand Mark Parker as the “next evolution of the smartpen,” the Livescribe 3 has been adapted for Apple users and is designed to work in conjunction with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

After downloading a dedicated Livescribe app and connecting the smartpen to their iOS device (using Bluetooth low energy), users can write notes on any Livescribe notebook and they will be instantly pushed to the iPhone or iPad’s screen. Unlike its predecessors, the new smartpen does not feature a built-in microphone or LED screen, instead piggybacking off the microphone and screen on the user’s iOS device to record sound and display information.

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According to Parker, the new design (which is lighter than previous Livescribe pens) and the new iOS dependent functionality is geared specifically towards the needs of users.

“We’ve had a very page-centric model and we’ve had a very compelling value proposition,” he said. “But there is a growing community of users who take what we call ‘micronotes’ —address, numbers and so on — small snippets of information.”

Realising that “pen and paper is still fundamental to people who use smartphones and tablets,” the Livescribe 3 was developed to allow people to take these quick notes down in writing, and then do more with them on their mobile devices.

The brand is also hoping to broaden the appeal of the device, away from just the early adopters and hardcore tech fans. Taking design cues from Mont Blanc, the Livescribe 3 smartpen was built to be a “less geeky, gadgety, Star Trekky device” that could appeal to all different consumers, from the highly flying business woman to the P&C Mum.

“We don’t want to sell her a gadget,” said Parker, “we want to sell her a companion to her tablet.”

Despite this goal to reach more consumers, Livescribe has taken a bold step in restricting compatibility and retail distribution for the advice.

While the Android operating system is popular in the Asia Pacific region, after “robust” international discussions Parker said the brand chose the “simplest path to product launch” and opted to make the Livescribe 3 only compatible with Apple iOS at launch. Similarly, the brand has hitched its wagon to Apple’s retail stores in a bid to create a logical brand accessory story.

“We’re not taking sides,” said Parker. “It’s about asking, ‘How do we launch in a sustainable way?’ and then building on that.”

After developing the product for use with iOS he added that it “made sense to provide [Apple] with the opportunity to have the iOS device in their stores.”

There are plans to expand the distribution in time for the back-to-school period in the New Year, and while Parker would not be drawn on specific details of distribution, he mentioned the brand’s strong relationship with Officeworks and that there were “a couple of retailers in the works [including] one out of left field”.

The standard Livescribe 3 bundle will be available for RRP $199, including the smartpen, 50-sheet notebook and USB charging cable. The Livescribe 3 smartpen Pro Edition (RRP $265) includes a 100-sheet hardbound journal with leather folio, one year subscription to Evernote Premium, charging cable and additional ink cartridge.

The standard Livescribe 3 smartpnen bundle.

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