One under-the-radar Norwegian-American startup has made quite a splash in the digital publishing world. It’s time for us to take a closer look at Texas-born but Oslo-based Katachi Media, the company behind Origami Engine, a new publishing system for the iPad.

Like most of its rivals, Origami Engine started life as an in-house tool to develop Katachi’s own digital magazine, simply titled Katachi Magazine. Never heard of it? It’s worth checking out. Last year Katachi took home the “Magazine of the Year” award at the Digital Magazine Awards in London, beating the likes of WIRED, GQ, and National Geographic.

Katachi has now spun off Origami Engine. The platform is built for designers, allowing them to turn their design into reality without touching a single line of code. Specifically, it’s the Origami Design application for Mac that does the magic. The suite also includes Origami View, a preview tool for the iPad, and Origami Exchange, the cloud publishing component.

But despite the WYSIWYG approach, it’s not a solution for everyone. Katachi are positioning OE as a premium product aimed at serious publishers. The pricing – $999 for your iTunes app, $99 a month for every user license, and another $999 per issue published – will put off many that just want to experiment. Time will tell if that’s a wise move.

Right now digital publishing is split down the middle. The tools that facilitate cross-platform publishing tend to lack a wow factor, while others (like OE) deep-dive into a platform to take advantage of very specific features, like video and 3D hardware acceleration.

Karianne Hjallen, CIO at Katachi Media, doesn’t see their iPad-only approach as a problem:

“The iPad and iPhone came first and we fell in love with those devices, so we wanted to make the best iPad magazine in the world. Three years later we believe we now have the best and most powerful tool for making mobile content on iOS. Android is fragmented which makes it hard to develop a unified experience for the platform. We have started the development process for it, but it is very costly and a lot more time consuming”, says Hjallen.

Digital publishing is evolving from week to week, but Katachi Media look well-placed to make an impact.

A former IT Project Manager, David Nikel now works as a technology writer in Norway. He helps Norwegian companies communicate in English and reports on the entrepreneurial scene for ArcticStartup.