Montreal-based LULU Software has announced the launch of Soda PDF Anywhere, a cloud-based application that lets users access full PDF functionality through a Web browser on any device. This makes it ideal for users on a phone or a tablet, and makes it the first player in the PDF space to have such a capability.
LULU is one of the Davids in the PDF space, competing against the Goliath that is Adobe. They are a privately owned company, focused exclusively on PDF, whose founders are based in Montreal, and whose developers are divided between Montreal and the Ukraine. Their base product, Soda PDF, is a mature one, which is now in its ninth version.
“Adobe is the dominant player in our space, but there are alternatives to them, and there are reasons for that,” said Sébastien Bisch, LULU’s Vice-President of Marketing. “To some degree they have taken the market for granted. The user experience isn’t as user friendly, and a lot of the newer players in the space have solutions that are easier to use. Adobe is updated every week and is cumbersome. They also have a lot of security issues.”
Price is also a big consideration here.
“We have the same functionality, but at a fraction of the price,” Bisch said. “Their desktop perpetual license is $450 and ours is $150.
The new offering, Soda PDF Anywhere, has no comparative pricing issue, because at this point in time neither Adobe nor anyone else has a comparable product. It is the first full-featured online PDF solution, which lets users create, convert and edit PDF documents.
“In our business, no one has changed how the products are delivered,” Bisch said. “This contrasts with something like Office 365, which lets apps be reached from any browser. With PDF Anywhere, we can offer a product that can be accessed from any device, whether traditional PCs, tablets or mobile phones. It’s based on access to the same app inside a browser, and it provides much more flexibility.”
The interface of PDF Anywhere is the same as desktop Soda PDF, which in turn is the same as the Office suite.
“Because it looks like the Office suite, it’s easy to get into,” Bisch said. “It also mirrors the desktop downloadable application exactly. The buttons are in the same place, so there is no learning curve. The vast majority of features are also present in the online application.” Users can also take files with them by connecting the Soda app to Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, or Box.
One brand new feature in Soda PDF Anywhere is the Soda E-Sign, which gives users an efficient, secure and legally-binding way to sign and send documents in seconds, eliminating the need to switch between different applications and print out paper contracts. Soda E-Sign also gives businesses the choice between Quick Send and Advanced Send workflows.
“The electronic signature capability is new with PDF Anywhere,” Bisch said. “This is really an important feature for professionals. They can create a document on their phone, sign it, and even if they make a mistake, they can edit it and fix it without having to go back to Word. It greatly speeds up the process.”
Most of the LULU business is direct through their website, but they do sell through the channel. Lifeboat Software is their distributor and they have some large account resellers as partners, which include Softchoice, Insight and SHI.
“About six years ago, when we launched the first version, of our product I visited Lifeboat to see how we could move beyond a direct model,” said Ian Bacon, who is in charge of business development for LULU. “They have provided us with a significant amount of resellers, and we still have an agreement with them. We also have a reseller portal through our website which provides information and materials they need to market and sell to clients.”
Soda PDF Anywhere comes in three distinct plans. A 14-day free trial is also available.