Last year I had a chance to use a very good genealogy program called Embla Family Treasures. I was very impressed with this genealogy program for Microsoft Windows and I later demonstrated it at some of my talks at genealogy conferences. Sadly, the program lasted little more than a year in the marketplace. Embla, the producing company, has gone out of business.
There may be a silver lining in this cloud, however. New owners have obtained the rights to the code and are developing a new release. The new owners are also looking for distributors in the United States and in the United Kingdom.
Embla was a small international company with a CEO in Norway and employees in England and the in United States. Embla acquired the rights to Family Treasures some time ago and developed the program into a state-of-the-art product that compared well with most of the popular Windows genealogy programs of today.
The company's marketing plan was unique, to say the least. The company gave the program away free of charge and then sold optional, add-on modules for modest fees. The core program was excellent and did all the basics well. I suspect that quite a few people downloaded the free program and used it alone, never purchasing any of the options.
The optional features were called Genealogy Enhancement Modules, or GEMs. A GEM might add the capability of printing wall charts or of producing special calendars of birthdays and anniversaries to distribute to family members. Most GEMs sold for $5.00 (U.S.) with a few selling for $10 and I believe one was listed for a few dollars more. GEMs could be purchased online and then immediately downloaded and added to the core program.
For more information about Embla Family Treasures, read my review of the program at http://eogn.typepad.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2004/06/embla_family_tr.html
Apparently it is difficult to make money with a genealogy program when you give it away free of charge. I don't know how many GEMs were sold but obviously the sales did not match the expenses. The program's U.S. and U.K. web sites now say:
The Norwegian company Embla AS (Embla Ltd) that develops "Embla Family Treasures" is bankrupt. New owners have bought the rights to the company and software. A new version of the program is under development.
There is no direct mention of the new version's business plan. However, there is a hint that the next version of Family Treasures may be sold for a fee in the same manner as other commercial programs: the new owners are looking for distributors in the United States and in the United Kingdom. A mention of "distributors" suggests a normal commercial product. Distributors normally get paid a percentage of the selling fee so anyone looking for distributors probably is planning to charge for the product.
If you own or work for a U.S. or U.K. company with an established distribution chain, preferably in genealogy products, you might want to contact the new owners. They may be looking for you.
As the program's U.S. web site says: "The program Embla Family Treasures will not be marketed or sold in USA until the new company has found a distributor. Distributors with a network in the USA can contact the new company." The program's U.K. web site has the same statement, simply substituting "U.K." in place of "U.S."