Wow, three years have gone by since my last blog post. It has been quite a journey.
That last blog post was in January 2009. At that point we at Bluefire had been working closely with Adobe for a couple years on a substantial overhaul of their ebook platform. At that point, Adobe Digital Editions had been available for about a year and Adobe Content Server 4 had been out for a few months. Sony had recently become the first major ebook retailer to adopt the new Adobe eBook Platform.
In February of that year Adobe released the Reader Mobile Software Development Kit (“RMSDK”) and it took off like a rocket ship. Many hardware companies built ereader devices using RMSDK, and key industry players leveraged the platform including Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Overdrive, Ingram, and Google – among many, many others.
As 2009 progressed we continued to work with Adobe on building out components of the platform and worked with several other clients in the digital publishing space. A lot of our client work that year was focused on developing technologies for browser-based reading systems.
By the end of 2009 my partner Patrick Keating and I recognized an unmet need in the market: mobile ereader apps. Yes, any company could license RMSDK and build their own app, but that process is a time consuming and expensive proposition that requires skill sets that are still very hard to find. We recognized that this skills gap represented a big opportunity for us because we were intimately familiar with the technology, and because, after many years working in the ebook space, we had been bitten by the ebook bug. We believed that many retailers, publishers, and libraries world-wide would be interested in deploying their own mobile ereader apps. Even large companies and institutions that we don’t necessarily think of as being in the “book” business seemed to be likely candidates to want to distribute long format content to their employees, investors, partners, and members on mobile devices.
So, after 8 years working as a boutique UX design and development services firm, Patrick and I decided it was the right time for us to reinvent Bluefire as a digital publishing platform provider. Our initial goal was to create a “white label” mobile app development system that would enable us to deliver customer-branded ereading apps to retailers and publishers so that they in turn could distribute ebooks directly to their own customers under their own brand. The idea was to “level the playing field” so that lots of new retailers and publishers could enter the rapidly evolving ebook marketplace quickly and affordably.
In the fall of 2010, after many months of hard work, we delivered our first white label iOS app to Books-A-Million, one of the largest brick-and-mortar retail chains in the US. In early 2011 we became an authorized reseller of Adobe eBook Platform technology licenses and services. And in August of 2011 we began delivering Android ereader apps to our customers as well.
I’m pleased to report that today, just one year after releasing our first product, we have over 75 enterprise customers in 18 countries and that Bluefire is entering 2012 as a growing, profitable and 100% independent company.
All of us here at Bluefire are looking forward to what should be an eventful and exciting year.