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Tag Archives | Cricut

What is the Cricut Circle?

And it is time for the summer madness to begin. Specifically, the latest viral marketing campaign for a new Cricut product.

Love or hate them and their products, you have to respect Provo Craft’s ability to build viral buzz in advance of new Cricut product introductions. (Although, in some cases, as with the Gypsy last year, this can have unintended consequences when the lack of details provided about the Gypsy in its campaign lead to a lot of consumer concerns about how it handled cartridges.)

Die cutting, both manual and electronic, is going to continue to be one of the most hotly contested product categories in the industry for the foreseeable future. So what is Cricut bringing to the battle at CHA Summer? I have no idea. But this splash screen is now up on their website at a subdomain called circle:

So, let the speculation begin…


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Provo Craft Acquired By BAML Capital Partners

Sorenson Capital, which purchased a majority stake in Provo Craft in 2005, has now sold a majority stake in the company to BAML Capital Partners. Sorenson Capital will retain a minority stake in the company, along with Provo Craft management.

BAML Capital Partners is the private equity group of Bank of America, that was created by the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch equity groups. As part of the acquisition, Provo Craft has entered into new credit arrangements that it says will facilitate its continued growth.

BAML Managing Director Brian Gorczynski focused on Provo Craft’s technology products as the real value of the acquisition:

We are excited to acquire this interest in Provo Craft. Jim Thornton and his outstanding management team have a commendable track record of developing successful technology products.

Other contents of the press statement about the acquisition also seemed to stress that the company sees itself as a technology company, focusing on the history of the Cricut line and the debut of the Cricut Cake. The announcement also indicated that Provo Craft “expects to announce additional product innovations later this year.”

Provo Craft had revenues of over $250 million in 2009. According to a 2009 article in Utah Business magazine, the company’s revenue has doubled (and profits gone up 500%) under the tenure of current CEO Jim Thornton. That article also emphasized that the company’s future lies in technology, saying Thornton “visualizes the company becoming a half-billion dollar enterprise within the next five years as it becomes one of the top technology brands.”

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Provo Craft & Make The Cut: The Technology Background

As noted earlier today on Scrapbook Update, Provo Craft has filed a lawsuit against software company Make The Cut over an issue that is somewhat new to the scrapbook industry: digital copyright security protection.

One issue seems to be of particular interest to Provo Craft in the lawsuit. Make The Cut recently provided an update that included a new feature they described as “experimental”: cartridge backup. Although Make The Cut indicates that their software doesn’t create a full reproduction of cartridge date, even partial data copies was apparently enough to warrant major attention from Provo Craft’s lawyers. This may explain why Provo Craft has chosen to take action against Make The Cut while seeming to leave alone Craft Edge, the maker of Sure Cuts A Lot software which also allows cutting from a computer with Cricut machines. The Sure Cuts A Lot software doesn’t access Cricut Design Studio or allow the use/copying of cartridge images.

Creating backups via cracked security protection has long been a fought-over issue in the technology world. The issue has been fought about regarding DVD’s, gaming cartridges, and other types of media. Media companies have pretty much always held that it violates their copyrights to create back-ups of the media they sell, or to transfer those media to other formats for use (such as ripping DVD’s to store and watch on your computer). But software, which doesn’t always work but still exists, to crack the copyright protection on DVD’s continues to be distributed via the internet. An exception to this are CD’s, which iTunes even has a built-in feature for importing, because there are usually no copy protections installed on them. (One notable exception: Sony BMG got in a lot of trouble several years back for installing computer-damaging root kits on some of their CDs that caused problems for users who inserted those discs into their Windows computers. They ended up as the subject of a recall, several class action lawsuits and state & federal sanctions.)

The creation and maintenance of closed operating platforms (where a company uses copyright protections and proprietary technology on equipment or systems to control how purchasers may use them) is also a highly controversial issue to many. Apple is (in)famous for doing this with the iPhone to control what applications users may run on their phone. The phone’s lockdown has resulted in a practice called “jailbreaking” where some users hack the phone so that they can install applications other than the officially approved ones sold in the iTunes App Store. The result has been a running battle between Apple and the jailbreakers, where the iPhone is repeatedly secured with a new operating system update, and then hacked again by jailbreakers. The same battle has already started over Apple’s brand new iPad device. (This differs from devices like a personal computer, which is designed as an open system designed to have any compatible software you can get your hands on – or even write yourself – installed on it.)

Provo Craft has in essence created a closed operating system for the Cricut with the secure proprietary software that runs the machines. Only their cartridges can be used in the machines, and only their Design Studio software or Gypsy can be used to access the machines for cutting. Companies like Apple say that a closed system provides a better user experience by eliminating outside errors being brought into a system. Many users agree and like the natural simplicity of a closed system.

So why does Make The Cut (and iPhone jailbreaking) exist? Because some users feel that once they buy something they should have the right to do with it whatever they want. A certain segment of consumers sees the purchase of an item as absolute. It’s a black-and-white philosophy: “I own it, so I should be able to do what I want with it.” These users chafe under limitations of a closed system.

These issues may be new to the scrapbook industry, but they certainly aren’t new to technology. As technology invades the scrapbook industry more, we will see more and more of them.

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Provo Craft Sues Make The Cut

Cricut manufacturer Provo Craft filed suit in U.S. District Court on April 1st against software manufacturer Make The Cut, which makes software that allows for cutting with Cricut machines without using cartridges.

Make The Cut is a Wisconsin-based company that is owned by Andrew Heinlein. It was organized as an LLC in early December 2009. An active community of users has grown around their software in a short period of time, sharing and trading cut files to use with the software on Cricut machines. The software is also, according to notes in recent updates, compatible with other machines such as the Silhouette, Craft Robo and Wishblade, although most users appear to be Cricut owners.

Provo Craft alleges multiple violations have been committed against them by Make The Cut. The suit alleges that Make The Cut:

  • Circumvented the copyright protection on the Cricut Design Studio software
  • Sells to others the ability to illegally circumvent copyright protection on Cricut Design Studio software
  • Encourages others to illegally circumvent copyright protection and assists with the infringement
  • Violates the copyright on Cricut Design Studio software and Cricut’s design cartridges
  • Violates and dilutes the Cricut trademarks by using them in advertising for Make The Cut products

No specific dollar amount is provided for requested damages, but Provo Craft is seeking damages under applicable laws for the violations, as well as court orders directing Make The Cut to stop further infringement. Make The Cut will have 21 days to file a response to the lawsuit with the court after they are officially served notification of the suit. Court filings currently have no record of a date of service.

Scrapbook Update has requested comment on this matter from representatives for both Provo Craft and Make The Cut. No response had been received as of the time of publication. Scrapbook Update will publish updates on this story as they become available.

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UR2 Cre8ive: 68 playful ways to unleash your creativity

Paperclipping Roundtable #12: Heart on Fire, Brain on Ice

Paperclipping Roundtable #12 was all about balancing scrapbooking for our families versus ourselves! This week’s panel consisted of Noell Hyman, Stacy Julian, Steph from The Daily Digi, and me (along with our resident non-scrapper Izzy).

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Here’s this week’s show notes:

Links from this week’s show:

Product Picks:

Here’s video that was taken with the Canon 5D Mark II camera that Izzy talked about:

Here’s the layout that I mentioned that uses the Tim Holtz paper pack and the Graphically Speaking cartridge:

Supply List: Paper – Tim Holtz Vintage Shabby Paper Pack, Marcella by Kay (Sophie); Punch – EK Success (Binding Edge); Ink – Tim Holtz Distress Ink (Pumice Stone); Spray Ink – Clearsnap Smooch Spritz (Vanilla Shimmer); Sticker – Grand Adhesions by K & Co (Hopscotch); Jewel – Prima; Flower – Prima Tea Roses (Peach Frost); Decorative Tape – Making Memories; Ribbon – unknown; Die Cut – Cricut (Graphically Speaking).

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Top Ten Product Trends at CHA Winter 2010, Part 2

It’s time to look at part two of the top ten product trends from CHA Winter 2010! (In case you missed it, here’s part one.)

Please note that these trends are intended to take a look at the types of products that are being offered, not the specific design and style trends that were being applied to those products.

6. Fabric/Canvas

Top row, left-right: Studio Calico, Prima, Prima. Middle row (l-r): Adornit, BasicGrey, BasicGrey. Bottom row (l-r): Melody Ross for GCD Studios, Claudine Hellmuth Studio, Webster’s Pages.

Maybe it is a reflection of the homemade/vintage feeling that is sweeping scrapbooking, but a lot of CHA Winter products were created from textiles. Replacing the hard metal embellishments of a few years ago, fabric is both more versatile as a material and more affordable. There’s also less government regulation to worry about for manufacturers, such as issues created recently by the CPSIA.

Some fabric items, such as Donna Downey’s products for Prima, are a blank starting point for projects. Others, such as Studio Calico’s Fabrips borders, are full-featured embellishments designed to be incorporated into other projects.

7. Embossed Cardstock

Left-right: Jenni Bowlin Core’dinations, Bazzill, Tim Holtz Alterations.

Products that were either already embossed or for creating embossing are becoming quite common in the scrapbook market. All of the manual die cutting systems seem to offer embossing accessories, and Tim Holtz caused big buzz at CHA with his new Alterations embossing designs for the Sizzix machine. Many of the cardstock companies (like Bazzill and Core’dinations) seem to be entering a gray area between cardstock and patterned paper providers by branching into embossed designs. It’s also becoming more frequent for patterned paper companies to include embossed designs in their lines (K and Company has a long history of this, for instance).

8. Spray Ink/Mist

Left-right: Smooch Spritz, Inkadinkado, Chalkboard Glimmer Mist.

Ink of all kinds is a hot product right now. But spray ink, which has only recently gotten attention as a category, is the hottest of all the inks – attracting attention even from papercrafters who don’t own a single stamp. Tattered Angels offered up a big expansion of its Glimmer line at CHA Winter 2010 and many other companies also either offered the product for the first time or expanded existing offerings.

9. Fancy Buttons

Top: American Crafts Glitter Buttons. Bottom: Bazzill Vintage Buttons.

Buttons are back as part of the vintage trend, but with a twist from their classic scrapbooking incarnation. Instead of plain buttons we now have glitter buttons, textured buttons, and bling buttons. Gone are the days of companies selling color assortments of plain buttons to coordinate with their lines – now they must have extra detail of some kind. Offerings from companies like GCD Studios and Bazzill remind me so much of my grandmother’s button jar!

10: Die Cutting

Top row, left-right: Cottage Cutz, Sizzix eClips, Tim Holtz Alterations. Bottom row (l-r): Cricut Cake, Spellbinders, Craftwell eCraft.

At CHA Winter 2010, there was plenty of proof that lots of companies see both digital and manual die cutting as a viable market. Several new exhibitors were associated with die cutting, and some of the show’s biggest buzz was centered around the Cricut Cake machine. Besides the Cricut Cake, Sizzix and Craftwell also showed new electronic cutters, greatly expanding the options in that area for consumers. On the manual side, Cottage Cutz was exhibiting as an independent producer of dies, an indicator of the perceived strength in that market. Tim Holtz’s new collection of vintage style dies for Sizzix has potential to reach a new audience for their machine, which is known for a more graphic or cute style of design.

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