Why Wacom´s Inkling is a Marketing Fail

As artist or designer you have probably heard about the new product Wacom is promoting currently, the "Inkling", with a specific pen and hardware that can interpret the movements on paper you are even able to digitize sketches on the go:

The idea is good but when viewing this "promotional video" with the "why-how-what" principle in mind, I realize there is no why, no actual reason for me to say "Yes" to this product - big fail from the marketing department here.
When viewing the enthusiasm around me about this fancy thing, I realize that Wacom created a really big wave, which is not bad. But its connected to a big promise, and as far as I can see they show everything the product can do in the spot. The problem with promises is that they require to be kept. The success of any Keynote from Steve Jobs was that he picked just a few of the great things any new product he showed can do, so that customers find out a big list of additional goodies themselves, any promise was overdelivered, with any apple product ever made. Simple tactic and it still works.

But back to the promise:
Sure would it be great if my idea can start as traditional sketches and immediately become digitized, but can you tell me one reason why I should not stick with the sketch-on-the-go-and-scan-later-at-office practice?

The reason I predict this product to be a fail (please note: this is my personal opinion) is that the benefit for artists in general is much smaller than the costs and that it targets at artists of all classes but forgets that only digital experts can think in invisible layers.

The benefits that are evident at the first glance might be time saving aspect and the ability to digitize on the go.
This might be true if you are a comic artist and if inking digitally over pencils is a pain for you.
I´m not bothering about the prize here, this gadget might be good for any doodler or early adopter who wants to show something fancy to their friends, but professionals who have to deliver on a tight deadline need a better reason.

Above all it requires from me to get used to a clumsy pen. I wonder what happens when the battery is empty "on the go" and if you even can see the layers you are creating, some people have even issues with layers they see in Photoshop, what about "invisible-layers" then?

I can only speak for myself and I work on sketches with an F or H pencil for a rough and an HB mechanical pencil for detail works. Its comfortable enough to scan the sketch and work from there in Photoshop for shadings, coloring and finalizing the work. And I know the workflow of most professionals who still work on paper is similar. The main problem is time for a really good workflow, changing the workflow means less productivity, in the worst case a failed investment and even worse: lost time.

Show me a presentation where an art-director utilize such a gadget to demonstrate the use of it in a meeting for example or a comic book artist who really can benefit from working into vector inks directly from a sketchbook.
This would be for sure a smaller target audience, but the promise wouldn´t be too big to keep, just realistic.

But Wacom, I will not leave you in the dark about any reason for sales reluctance:
If you can find a better reason for artists to use such a device and say "YES" to your product, you are on a good way. Or if you learn to target a specific audience within the artist community, instead of speaking to all artists with one Ad. And by the way; not everyone is an expert in imagining invisible layers:)

MY prediction for an epic-win would be pressure sensitive stylus (or support) for the iPad, but I´m saying this since years and no one is hearing me, go on you fingerpainters and inklings, in a few years you come back to this blog and say:" you were so right" :-)
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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


  1. True... thought of the same issues myself. As for your pressure sensitive stylus on a tablet desire - why are you looking to Apple? Asus has already made it happen: http://ca.asus.com/en/Eee/Eee_Pad/Eee_Slate_EP121/ and it runs on Windows 7, you can attach USB devices and of course run the full version of Photoshop on it.

  2. Yep, thought of the same issues myself.

    About your desire for a pressure-sensitive pen for a tablet, why are you looking to Apple for the answer? Asus has delivered that and more a long time ago: http://ca.asus.com/en/Eee/Eee_Pad/Eee_Slate_EP121/
    - Runs Windows 7 which means full version of PSD can be used
    - Wacom stylus
    - Cheaper, faster and much more versatile
    - Not to mention USB devices can be used

  3. Marius, I looked at apple, because once upon a time they made or better said "invented" tools for designers! Something that isn´t possible to imagine anymore since their target audience shifted to the mass market. I know the Asus and also the Samsung t700 slate PC are able to run Win7 and Photoshop, the problem still remains, as these tablets are just capable of giving 256 levels of pressure sensitivity, even the expensive modbooks from Axiotron have "just" 512. And just for comparison, the Intuos 4 tablet has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, too much to go back to Neandertal ( at least for my use:)



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