Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Top 11 Stories of 2009: 9. Orator and Its Lack of Release

We're continuing our year-end look at the most influencial, ground-breaking, or otherwise important stories of 2009. In addition to our own staff, we consulted with some industry experts including ACB Radio Main Menu's Jamie Pauls, the Blind Geek Zone's Rick Harmon, Ranger from the Ranger Station Blog, and the Fred's Head Companion's Michael McCarty to help create our list. We'll present one item every day through New Year's day, when we'll reach number 1. Today, we look at potentially the biggest letdown of 2009.

Delays in releasing a new product are understandable and actually quite typical in the technology world. But the release of one of the more anticipated mobile screen readers in recent memory has been nothing sort of laughable. Let's illustrate this with a bit of a time line:

September 10, 2007. An article in the New Zealand Herald quotes Humanware chief executive Richard Mander as touting a new partnership with Research in Motion, makers of the Blackberry which will result in voice access to the popular mobile device early next year. Next year being 2008.

July 4, 2008. Gilles Pepin, chief executive officer of HumanWare, gives an update on the Blackberry accessibility project at the National Federation of the Blind convention in Dallas. The release is slated for the fall.

March 17, 2009. Humanware, in colaberation with Code Factory, announces the Orator software package for Blackberry phones via a press release. A drawing is offered giving away three Blackberry phones with Orator.

July 3. Humanware presents Orator at both the National Federation of the Blind and American Council of the Blind's annual conferences. Demonstration models are a hot item on the exhibit hall floors.

July 16. Humanware announces another contest to give away four Blackberry smartphones, powered by Orator. Who knows where these phones are right now, because they probably are currently powered by broken promises.

August 31. Michel Pepin, Orator for BlackBerry Smartphones Product Manager, presents the Orator on the Accessible World Tech Talk program.

October 27. When you're still not ready for launch, what do you do? Simple, announce a prelaunch of course. Does that make the CSUN announcement the pre, prelaunch?

We're certainly appreciative of the efforts companies put forth in releasing groundbreaking products. But it certainly looks like Humanware should have kept quiet on this one until they were a bit closer to release. Their anxiousness got the best of them. Nevertheless, the entire saga of this release is number 9 on our countdown.

View more of the Blind Bargains Top 11 Stories of 2009

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Displaying 3 comments.
Jeff.young Friday, 25-Dec-2009 2:20 PM ET:

at least codefactory didn't start talking about Mobile Speak 4 until a few months ago, and they were very quiet about it for a long time.

darknexus Friday, 25-Dec-2009 9:05 PM ET:

If demonstration items were hot on the exhibit hall floor, how might this be considered a broken promise? They've obviously gotten it working to some extent. Still, what they've done with the drawings is, to my mind, misleading if not dishonest. It'd also be really nice to get a statement from them letting us know why it has taken this long to release. For all we know, at the moment, it could be something as simple as a new version of the Blackberry OS not working with Orator and they need to fix it, or that perhaps the models Orator does work with are no longer current. Could be they've gotten it all working just right but can't decide on a price point. I think the uncertainty is more annoying than the delay in release.

Blindknitter Saturday, 26-Dec-2009 9:47 PM ET:

I think the delay is annoying personally. If they truly wanted not only our business but the business of others they could be honest and say why the delay is taking so long. If you promise something for 2 years its not a delay after a while its bad business to keep tempting but never offer the product.

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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