Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Top 10 Stories of 2010 2. The Rise and Fall of Blio

We're almost done with our annual look at the most influential, ground-breaking, or otherwise important stories of 2010. 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 and Ranger from the Ranger Station Blog to help create our list. We'll present one item every day until we reach number 1. Today, the rise and fall of Blio.

The saga of Blio includes many of the elements of a soap opera. Broken promises, diminished expectations, and betrayal. We began the year with much excitement, as Blio was being demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show. It would be the savior which brought access awareness to the mainstream and electronic books to the blind. But then, the release date began to shift. First February, then May and June, and finally the end of September. But when release day came, one of Blio's biggest selling points was absent from the product, as one of the very markets it was meant to serve felt slighted. It appeared to many that KNFB Reading Technology, a company formed to increase access to printed material for the blind and low vision community, changed course and did what most mainstream companies do on a regular basis by releasing a version of a product with accessibility not included. You might expect this from Microsoft or Adobe, but certainly not from a company which champions equal access as their mantra.

Some may have been willing to give Blio one final pass, as an accessible version of Blio was then promised for the end of October. But as of this article in January 2011, no accessible version of the program is available. Blio has demonstrated a complete loss of focus by a company which was one of the pioneers of portable reading solutions, and the entire story is laughable at this point. Meanwhile, Apple's iBooks, Amazon's Kindle 3, Bookshare's expansion, and OpenLibrary's accessible titles have brought us more accessible book titles than Blio will for a long time, and its relevance has faded, both as an accessible product or a popular mainstream solution. Blio and its many disappointments ranks it at number 2 on this year's list.

For more on Blio, read our quick take which we published shortly after the initial release.

Category: Articles
Displaying 1 comment.
techlynne Monday, 10-Jan-2011 7:13 PM ET:

Blio was truly disappointing and your comments are spot-on.

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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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