Home improvement

Matt Grainger takes a look at the market for creative and self-improvement software?
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Once upon a time, if a person wanted to learn a new language or to play an instrument, they had two options: either they could pay a lot of money for classes, or they could take the cheaper route and buy a book that would inevitably be left to gather dust on a shelf. Similarly, those who wanted to be creative with music or the graphic arts had no option but to buy the kind of professional equipment that needed a degree to operate.

Fortunately, the digital age has made these kind of pursuits cheaper and considerably more accessible, bringing a genuine learning or creative experience to the home.

“We always see very strong performance from the creative software market,” states Focus Multimedia’s PR and marketing manager, Alan Wild. “Over time, we’ve found that our All-in-One learning and Select creative titles deliver evergreen results in the PC full price and budget software sectors respectively.

“We have four key demographics for this kind of item: students, hobbyists, professional users, and gift purchasers. Software favourites are numerous, with photo editing, desktop publishing, web design, cross stitch and crafts and TotalCAD all consistently popular.”

Avanquest’s sales director Steve Powell has also noted that creative software primarily appeals to “individual home users who enjoy creative hobbies such as scrapbooking, card-making and photography plus small businesses looking for professional yet affordable photo editing or publishing solutions.”

So despite being a relatively niche category, these sectors enjoy year-round sales both to consumer households and the business sector.

“People are always keen to learn new skills and software gives PC users the ability to use technology to help better themselves,” observes Powell. “The multimedia nature of the PC also enhances the learning experience for certain products, such as language learning software.”

Creative and self-improvement software may be a niche category, but the public appetite for this kind of software is always whetted, providing an evergreen opportunity for targeted and add-on sales.

FAMILY TREE MAKER PLATINUM 2011
SRP:
£59.99
Distributor: Interactive Ideas, Gem Distribution, Ideal Software, CentreSoft

They say: Everyone has a family. Every family has a story. Family Tree Maker 2011 Platinum can help you find yours. With more than 100 enhancements to help you, this software makes it easier than ever to discover your family story, preserve your legacy and share your unique heritage

Features: Research and preserve your family story, create charts and reports, integrate with the 860 million records on Ancestry.co.uk, add photos, documents, audio and video, view timelines and interactive maps highlighting events and places

CLAYMATION STUDIO 2.0
SRP: £40.85
Distributor: Gem Distribution

They say: With Honestech Claymation Studio you can easily create stop motion video. Capture images using a digital camera webcam or DV camcorder and add background images audio and music to create your own stop motion movies

Features: Storyboard creator, captures images using webcam, digital camera or camcorder, adjustable frame rate, capture tools, Chroma Key colour tools, audio synchronisation

EJAY DANCE 6 RELOADED
SRP:
£19.99
Distributor: Gem Distribution

They say:
Inspiring fans from all over the world, eJay Dance is back and now even better than ever before. Whether a professional musician or just wanting to create some new tracks, eJay Dance 6 reloaded lets users create songs in full studio quality as simply as never before

Features: 10,000 licence-free dance sounds, 48 track sound mixers, five virtual instruments, 3D video studio allows users to create accompanying video with over 2,000 3D and video elements available

STUDIO 14 ULTIMATE COLLECTION HD
SRP:
£100.99
Distributor: Gem Distribution

They say: Boost any story with this top-tier release from the Pinnacle Studio Family, Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Collection. The collection includes a complete set of plug-ins and a Chroma Key green screen for advanced effects, editing and production, in addition to feature-rich Studio Ultimate software

Features: Stop motion capture, fluid image stabilisation technology, Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, digital conversion, export to devices including PS3 and Nintendo Wii, Pinnacle Studio Ultimate special effects software over 80 montage templates

ROXIO CREATOR 2011
SRP:
£49.99
Distributor: Gem Distribution

They say: Roxio’s Creator 2011 launched as the first digital media suite that lets users capture, edit, create and share personal 3D photos, videos and projects. Users of Creator 2011 can convert standard 2D digital photos and home videos into amazing 3D content, creating personalised 3D multimedia productions from existing digital media libraries

Features: Edit and share photo, video and audio projects, upload content to social networking sites. Roxio Streamer software turns a PC in to a home server, video file conversion, digitises obsolete content such as VHS, captures audio and video from the web

101 LANGUAGES OF THE WORLD
SRP:
£39.99
Distributor: Focus Multimedia

They say: Whether you’re a language enthusiast, fascinated by different languages, a budding Jason Bourne, or you want to greet business partners in their native language, 101 Languages of the World features over 140,000 words and 25,000 phrases, native speaker comparisons and hundreds of interactive dialogues

Features: Interactive skill building exercises, personal progress tracking, SlowSound to develop listening skills, multilingual word processor

ALL-IN-ONE PHOTO STUDIO
SRP:
£19.99
Distributor: Focus Multimedia

They say:
Your complete digital photo workshop. Quickly and easily create your own themed photo albums, slideshows on your
TV or PC, photo galleries on the web, screensavers, wallpapers and more

Features: Red eye removal, special effects, panorama creator, scratch removal, sepia conversion, morphing, album creator, back-up software

ALL-IN-ONE PRINT STUDIO
SRP:
£19.99
Distributor: Focus Multimedia

They say: Unleash your creativity with All-in-One Print Studio. This easy-to-use software contains everything you need to design your own custom-made print projects in a flash. Whether you import your own photos or choose from the thousands of supplied clip art images, you’re guaranteed professional and impressive results

Features: Red eye removal, image scaling, cropping, exposure adjuster, colour improvement, noise reduction, card and stationary design, database of 35,000 fair-use images

DRIVING TEST SUCCESS – ALL TESTS 2011
SRP:
£9.99
Distributor: Focus Multimedia

They say: Over 3.3 million units sold, Driving Test offers everything you need for the way you want to learn

Features: Essential revision for learners, unlimited random mock tests, full explanations, custom tests, progress analysis, printable exam papers, official questions, hazard perception practice, interactive practical driving lessons

NEWNOVELIST
SRP:
£9.99
Distributor: Focus Multimedia

They say: NewNovelist will guide you through the entire process of writing a novel, from the planning stage right through to completing your first draft. Get advice on the pace of your story and the degree of suspense to maintain

Features: Plan and create a complete story, characters and events, methodical development, tutorials, global notes, writers resource centre

SELECT DESKTOP PUBLISHING
SRP:
£9.99
Distributor: Focus Multimedia

They say: Whatever type of document you’re looking to create, from the simplest card to the most complicated catalogues and websites, Select: Desktop Publishing has all the tools you will ever need to create the most outstanding publications ever

Features: Over 550 templates, easy-to-use wizards, word processing, design tool suite, PDF publishing, web publishing, works for a range of publication types

HALLMARK CARD STUDIO DELUXE
SRP:
£29.99
Distributor: Interactive Ideas, CentreSsoft, Ideal Software, Gem Distribution

They say: For 100 years Hallmark has designed greeting cards for life’s special moments. With Hallmark Card Studio Deluxe, it’s easy to create one-of-a-kind Hallmark cards as unique as the people you care for. Select from thousands of designs and templates, customise by adding photos, text and graphics, then print at home. It’s amazing what you and Hallmark can do together

Features: Thousands of Hallmark cards and projects, new UK version with 200 extra cards including Forever Friends, over 16,000 Hallmark graphics, Hallmark Note writing guide, photo calendars and photo cards, event planner, Hallmark e-cards, digital photo editor

TRANSPARENT COMPLETE LANGUAGE RANGE
SRP:
£99.99
Distributor: Interactive Ideas

They say: Transparent Complete Edition is a powerful and flexible language learning solution that gives you five learning products in one affordable package. It will take you on a journey beginning with the basics and take you as far as you want to go, all at a pace that suits you.

Features: Build and retain a large vocabulary base, games and quizzes, develop listening comprehension, reading and writing exercises, fluency aids

HOME DESIGNER ESSENTIALS 10
SRP:
£35.99
Distributor: Interactive Ideas

They say: Home Designer Essentials is an entry level title to help you with your home design, remodel and landscaping projects. With over 4,000 library items you can create your perfect design. It’s fun and easy – start your project today

Features:
House Wizard, over 500 sample floor plans, cost estimation and material lists, design in 3D and 2D plan view, easy-to-use automated building tools

MAGIX MOVIE EDIT PRO 17 PLUS
SRP:
£79.99
Distributor: Interactive Ideas

They say: Magix Movie Edit Pro 17 Plus is the world’s first 3D video editing program. Edit your videos as usual in 2D, create breathtaking 3D movies that captivate your audience, and experience another aspect of video editing: speed

Features: Over 1,000 special effects, cinematic transitions and templates, advanced audio dubbing, Dolby Digital 5.1 mixer, full HD support, MultiCam editing, travel route animation

SERIF CRAFT ARTIST PLATINUM
SRP:
£39.99
Distributor: TBC

They say: Available from January 2011, CraftArtist Platinum is the all-in-one package for creating every type of print project imaginable. It includes all the content from Wedding Day, Baby Photos, Greeting Cards and Scrapbooks plus the CraftArtist Professional software, with added features for extra value

Features: Wedding stationery and decoration design, personalised photobooks and scrapbooks, custom greetings cards, various kits and templates

SERIF PAGE PLUS X5 DESKTOP PUBLISHING
SRP:
£79.99
Distributor: Entatech

They say: Create professional-quality advertising, sophisticated print designs and electronic documents with PagePlus X5, the best-in-class desktop publisher

Features: Creates professional printed and digital documents, wide variety of templates, create and edit PDFs, logo studio, enhance and tranform photos, advanced typography, online sharing, free help and support

SERIF DIGITAL SCRAPBOOK ARTIST 2
SRP:
£29.99
Distributor: Entatech

They say: Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 is the must-have digital crafting studio and contains all the tools and features needed to create beautiful, handcrafted designs like scrapbooks, cards, invitations, and postcards on a PC, without a steep learning curve. It’s been specifically tailored for the digital scrapbooker and is incredibly easy to use thanks to on-screen prompts and handy toolbars

Features: Easy-to-use, create scrapbooks and cards, photo lab, digital crafting toolset, share designs at DaisyTrail

SERIF PHOTOPLUS ESSENTIALS
SRP:
£29.99
Distributor: Entatech

They say: PhotoPlus Essentials is the fast and easy digital photo editor. The friendly workspace makes everyday edits like red-eye removal, straightening, cropping, and removing blemishes easy to do and there’s plenty of on-screen help if it’s needed. It has fantastic tools for restoring old or damaged photos and applying creative effects is straight-forward.

Features: Makeover Studio, brightness and contrast adjustors, red-eye removal, repair and restore, instant artist, filter gallery, print projects, Google Maps geolinking.

BERLITZ SPANISH PREMIER
SRP:
£29.99

Distributor: Centresoft, Gem Distribution, Ideal Software, Interactive Ideas

They say: Make learning Spanish easy with the brand that has helped people master foreign languages quickly, naturally and effectively for more than 130 years

Features: Audio and multimedia learning, flash card system, speech analysis, four Berlitz audio CDs, interactive games, free unlimited phone and email support

PHOTO EXPLOSION DELUXE 4
SRP:
£39.99
Distributor: Centresoft, Gem Distribution, Ideal Software, Interactive Ideas

They say: Photo Explosion Deluxe 4.0 makes digital photography easier than ever before with a brand new user interface, over 10,000 photo projects and graphics, and an improved workflow for fixing, enhancing and editing photographs

Features: Image capture from a variety of devices, archiving software, templates for albums, scrapbooks, calendars and more, automated sharing, photo montage creator, Makeover Studio, photo morphing, panorama creator, professional photo toolkit, text effects, over 2,000 frames, props and borders, animation creator

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