A new battle is brewing between Adobe and Quark, the page layout software giants. Both companies have radically changed their support programs for the print industry. Adobe killed its program for low-cost page layout software and Quark quickly moved to fill the void with a free copy of QuarkXpress. What started as a business decision for Adobe may quickly turn into a market share battle with its top competitor.
For some printers, the new year started with a shock. Adobe announced it has ended its Print Service Provider Program. The program allowed printers to receive special discounts on Adobe print software and offered free technical support. Printers had been paying as little as $600 a year for Adobe’s Creative Suite and were provided upgrades at no charge. According to Adobe, the membership numbers were lacking and “no longer sufficient to sustain the activities and technology investments that can deliver upon the program’s initial goals.” The program ended February 4.
On various blogs and websites, printers voiced their concern about Adobe dropping the program. Some lamented the loss of the steep discounts for Adobe CS4. Others complained that the service support would suffer with the program. Others threatened to take their business to Quark.
I hated to see the program go because it really helped a number of cash strapped quick and small commercial printers stay on top of the latest software. The yearly membership fee was well below the aggregated upgrade costs other users paid. Another bonus was the fast technical support and a steady flow of information from Adobe. It put small shops on level ground with large commercial printing companies.
It looked like it would be a win/win for all involved. Yet by Adobe’s standards, not enough printers took advantage of the program to make it worthwhile to continue. I have already heard printers comment that the news on the program’s demise was the first they heard of the program. Quick Printing has promoted the program since its inception and this column has carried news about its advantages for printers for years. I have spoken to printing groups around the country about the savings the program offered. But for some reason, the offer fell on deaf ears and the numbers of active members dwindled.
I expect Adobe to continue its support of the printing industry, especially with its website and forums. A printer can have almost any Adobe question answered at www.adobe.com/forums.
Filling the Void
Quark used Adobe’s decision to attempt to strengthen its support in the printing industry and provide printers with a free copy of QuarkXpress 8. Quark has announced special offers that allow eligible printers to join Quark output provider programs at no cost. Adobe Service Network (ASN) members, current QuarkAlliance members, and printers interested in Quark Promote have been invited to take advantage of complimentary QuarkAlliance and Quark Promote memberships. Membership benefits can include priority technical support, a free copy of QuarkXPress 8, and increased market visibility.
Existing ASN members who register now will receive a complimentary one year enrollment to both the QuarkAlliance Output Provider Program as an Authorized Partner and the Quark Promote Output Provider Program (U.S. only) as an Authorized Partner (at the provider’s discretion). Current members of the QuarkAlliance Output Provider Program are eligible for a complimentary one year membership renewal that now also includes enrollment in the Quark Promote Output Provider Program. All output providers are eligible for complimentary enrollment in the Quark Promote Output Provider Program.
With everyone looking to save money, printers should take advantage of the program to get a free copy of QuarkXpress and the additional support. Quark has lost market share over the years because of poor customer service. The special program should allow printers to take another look at the page layout software. Most printers should have a copy of QuarkXpress on hand to help provide support of designers who use the program. There is a June deadline for joining the program. For more information and to apply, visit www.quarkalliance.com/.