Apples & Pears: Big Launch Day for Rosetta Stone and Livemocha

Today is the big day for two education companies. Rosetta Stone launches its brand new version 4 TOTALe flagship product and Livemocha launches its new range of Active Courses in partnership with Harper Collins.

I love the smell of language immersion in the morning!

Now, apparently this launch day is not a mere coincidence but a PR move from Livemocha to steal some of Rosetta Stone’s thunder and of course get some press attention around the Rosetta Stone TOTALe launch. Michael Schutzler, the CEO of Livemocha is too long in the business to pass on such an opportunity.

So let’s start with Rosetta Stone. The new mantra coming with TOTALe is

Awaken Natural Language-Learning Ability Through Live, Online Practice and Socialization

The TOTALe package consists of

  • the Rosetta Course which is basically what you already know from the CDs
  • Rosetta Studio which is an online class with other students at your level and a language coach
  • Rosetta World which is the online community where you can practice with other students, play games etc
  • TOTALe Mobile and Audio Companion which lets you review vocabulary on the go
  • Customer Support and Success which is a team of agents who provide learners with motivation and support along the way

Existing Rosetta Stone 3 users will be able to upgrade to TOTALe for $49, a Level 1 product with three months online access is priced at $249 and the full TOTALe program with 15 months online access is priced at $749. The product is available in 24 languages.

If we compare the prices to those of last year’s release of TOTALe we see that the price went down by about $250 but then it also offers the new Mobile Companion which did not exist in the first TOTALe version. The price drop might of course be an answer to Livemocha’s new product line “Active Course”. The title of the press release is

Livemocha brings language learning out of the stone age

I wonder what that means. Anyway, the new Active Course will be available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish at a cost of $149.95 for a twelve months subscription or $19.95 for a monthly subscription.

The Active Courses consist of

  • Subtitled video conversations and conversation practice exercises that teach essential words and phrases needed in day-to-day conversation
  • Interaction and practice with native speakers; more than one million helpful suggestions provided by members every month in response to completed exercises
  • Personalized guidance; Livemocha Experts are available to evaluate each speaking and writing exercise
  • World-class learning content from leading educational publishers including practical grammar lessons

Comparing those two products is a bit like comparing apples and pears to me. Both are fruit but still, they are not the same. I also don’t understand why Livemocha is still comparing themselves to the classic Rosetta Stone CD course. Even in the press release today they quote Michael Schutzler

“The Livemocha model breaks the mold of expensive, one-dimensional CD-ROM courses that rely on rote memorization and computerized voice recognition.”

This is a bit like Nokia releasing a new mobile phone, ignoring the iPhone and saying “Our new mobile phone is so much better than those telephones connected to landlines.” I know, I know, this is marketing and most people don’t know about the new TOTALe product yet which is another point on my “I don’t get it” list in this whole PR battle.

Moreover, Rosetta Stone is not reacting in any way to Livemocha, they simply seem to ignore them which is also a bit weird given the fact that the Livemocha community is growing like a wildfire. The quote of Tom Adams, CEO of Rosetta Stone in their press release today shows that nicely

“Rosetta Stone is committed to changing the way the world learns languages, and we believe Version 4 TOTALe is a truly innovative product that will change our industry”

Honestly, this has already been done by Livemocha in 2007 when they launched their community and brought language learning in the web 2.0 age and in this case Rosetta Stone only reacted to the rise of language learning communities like Livemocha, Babbel and Busuu to name only three. Even if they already worked on the TOTALe product behind the scenes back then, Livemocha was the first to jump in the water and prove that it works.

I really don’t think that you can or even should compare both products with each other. Both are missing the key feature of the other and this is in the DNA of the companies. Therefore, I say both build good products for their natural customer group and are satisfying those specific needs from the learning but also from the pricing side. There you have it.

So, what is in for the learners? Rosetta Stone is offering a free test drive of the new TOTALe course and Livemocha offers a 50% discount on the new Active Course to all their Twitter followers.

Related Links:

  1. Rosetta Stone v 4 TOTALe Test Drive
  2. Rosetta Stone Press Release
  3. Livemocha on Twitter
  4. Livemocha looks to crack Rosetta Stone with new language service
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  • chinamike

    Here is what I read:

    Livemocha(TM), the world’s largest online language learning community, today announced the launch of Livemocha Active Courses™, a set of ground-breaking online language courses for English, French, Italian, German and Spanish that PROMISE conversational fluency through the combination of world-class course curriculum.

    I would love to know what this promise consists of. Nothing else. Just tell me what your promise is. Finito!

    But, while I am on the subject, I would also like to thank Live Mocha for bringing us backward language teachers out of the stone age. And I also want to thank the publishers for finally providing us (stone age teachers) with world-class teaching materials. I only wish these publishers would have told us that the materials of theirs that we had been using for years were less than world class. Is this world class materials thing something new by the way?

    Oh, one more thing, just for you Pearson since I spend so much money on your materials every year. Should I now stop spending money on all your other materials since these new materials now “match or exceed the educational caliber of traditional textbook curriculum”?

    Oh, my gosh, what wonderful, gushing, hyperbole! I think in this regard LiveMocha and Rosetta Stone are meant for each other!

  • Vtlau

    So it is like Rosetta Stone original + social media stuff…Thank you for your commentary. Very helpful

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    I would love to know what this promise consists of. Nothing else. Just tell me what your promise is. thanks for the post.

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