Adobe Drives Another Stake Through the Heart of Print

January 17, 2010 by Thad McIlroy

No press release was issued by Adobe, but a few press outlets caught the story. I found it the other day in PrintAction‘s weekly enewsletter. Clive Chan, PrintAction‘s associate editor, tells me that he picked up the story from Macworld UK.

Further searching brings me to a blog entry from January 4, 2010 by the excellent journalist Cary Sherburne at PrintCEO.com. She had received notification from Adobe’s PR agency of the news, and it’s from her report that emerges the obsequious statement, “the print segment continues to be important (to Adobe).” Yes, and what a great way to share the love.

Adobe has no release on its site, but if you go to the Print Service Provider page on Adobe.com, you’ll be tersely informed: “The Adobe Partner Connection Print Service Provider Program has been discontinued. If you have any questions, please contact the Partner Programs Helpdesk (log-in required).”

Sherburne’s column produced 18 comments. Several were of the “oh well” variety, but more typical is:

The discontinuing of the program is a trend in marginalizing print. They dropped the printed Adobe Magazine, brought it back for a short term in electronic form. That too is gone. Seminars at trade shows, especially when new software was rolled out, was eliminated well before Seybold folded. The ASP logo gave the potential client some assurance of competence.

And:

For Adobe to do this now, in this economy, is a stab in the back, since it was really the printing industry (that) helped get Adobe on the map. If it wasn’t for printers, graphic artists and prepress, Adobe wouldn’t be where it is today. So thanks Adobe for shooting us when we are down….This is the thanks we get for supporting Adobe all these years.

And finally:

I’m shocked to have to find out about it online as opposed to a letter from Adobe to its members. Is our loyalty of so little importance that we don’t even rate that? I have personally pushed Adobe InDesign over QuarkXPress to my customers for years in part because I felt Adobe was sensitive to the needs of print providers while Quark took a ‘here it is take it or leave it’ attitude….Watch out Adobe, snubbing customer loyalty is how Quark lost the top spot!

That last comment is I believe apropos and reveals what I can only imagine is Adobe’s thinking:

1. Adobe InDesign has essentially vanquished QuarkPress. Yes, there are quite a few legacy QuarkXPress customers, but Adobe wins the vast majority of new installations.

2. Print is an ever-declining source of revenue for Adobe, while as I’ve often noted, Adobe has a very clear strategy for moving forward on the web. No, Adobe is not abandoning print, it has merely dropped quite a few rungs down the ladder in Adobe’s list of priorities.

3. Don’t cry for me, print! I don’t blame Adobe for recognizing the reality of print’s rapid decline and placing its corporate priorities where it must. I just wish it would indeed recognize in some tangible way that these folks that it is tossing overboard did indeed help to launch the company into the enormous success that it has become. Of course eventually we have to pull the patient off life-support, but it can be done with dignity.

4. Adobe’s claim that membership was dropping and the cost to Adobe was becoming too high somehow doesn’t ring properly for a profitable $5 billion company that does manage to offer numerous other support programs, many directed towards web-related technologies (although there is a support program for the multiple media Creative Suite).

Enough of this. I rest my case.

Update: On January 20th Quark very wisely stepped into the breach, announcing,  “In continued support of the print community, Quark announced today 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 are invited to take advantage of complimentary QuarkAlliance and Quark Promote memberships. Membership benefits can include priority technical support, a free copy of QuarkXPress 8, increased market visibility, and potential revenue opportunities….”

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Comments

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    Jan 19th, 2010 : 12:44 PM

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fran Ontanaya, wtterc. wtterc said: Thad McIlroy blogs Adobe drive stake in the heart of print http://thefutureofpublishing.com/blog/2010/01/adobe-drives-stake-through-print/ […]

  • Noel Ward

    Jan 19th, 2010 : 1:45 PM

    Somehow this doesn’t really come as a surprise. While Adobe got started with PageMaker and PostScript and enabling printers —and their customers— to do far more than they ever imagined, Adobe is still a software company. And software firms live or die by enabling people to do things they couldn’t do as well (if at all) without the software.

    And how much more does one REALLY need to do when it comes to printing? Maybe not a whole lot, and that could be why Adobe is looking for greener fields. OK, sure, it would be marvelous if color management was totally error-free, or if font issues were forever eliminated. Or if image resolution issues disappeared. But those are as much operator error as anything else, and even Adobe software can’t fix that. Further, with Creative Suite the de facto standard for design, and lots of online forums available for problem solving, there’s less justification for Adobe-run support programs.

    Further, with print declining in relevance as a medium, it makes a lot of sense for Adobe to go after the lion’s share of the electronic media software market. Their customers, after all, are making the shift, so why not fill the needs of that customer base? I know plenty of designers who do print and web and video. Just the other day one said the other day she hasn’t even been asked to do a print job in 6 months. Yet she’s plenty busy doing electronic communications.

    Still, Adobe’s attitude toward print providers that’s evidenced in these moves really is disrespectful of an audience that helped the company get to where it is today, and that’s just shameful. Back in the day when I consulted to printers on how to implement “desktop publishing” systems in their shops, I actively encouraged them to become Authorized Adobe Service Providers, which many did, and to great advantage for their businesses. Maybe there’ll be an electronic media equivalent for web designers, video editors and more. But don’t hold your breath. That’s something from another age.

    So life goes on. Maybe it’s really just as the Godfather said, “It’s not personal. It’s business.”