Is pen mightier Drawing apps boost stylus sales

Written by Bloomberg | Updated: Mar 31 2012, 06:03am hrs
Even Steve Jobs didnt see this one coming: The stylus is back. The late Apple co-founder derided the idea of using plastic pens with smartphones and tablet computers. Who wants a stylus Jobs said in 2007. You have to get em and put em away, you lose em. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus. Then in 2010 after the release of the iPad, he said, If you see a stylus, they blew it.

Now, a decade after stylus-driven tablet PCs struggled to find an audience, the pen is starting to take off. Four companies that sell pens for the iPad and iPhone say they saw significant sales growth in the last month or so.

One apparent driver of the stylus revival is Draw Something, the breakout mobile game by OMGPOP, which was acquired by Zynga last week. In less than two months, it has amassed 28.5 million users, according to AppData, which tracks software usage. Certainly, if youre serious about that game, the stylus would be an advantage, said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst for research firm Gartner.

Just Mobile, which makes a product called the AluPen, said its sales have doubled. Draw Something makes people crazy, Ensha Huang, a spokeswoman for the Taichung, said. Many people realise the styluses are just needed for drawing.

Its not the only app boosting sales of styluses. Note-taking and doodling apps such as ColorBox HD, Notability and Penultimate are also on the lists of the most-downloaded iPad apps. In addition, two stylus-focused notebook apps for the iPad, Paper and Tapos, came out this week.

While early tablets failed because they relied too heavily on the stylus, people today are finding situations where a pen is preferable to a finger, Gartenberg said.