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More on Quark

I was speaking to my girlfriend, who is a graphic design student, about the whole Quark situation.

She told me that Quark is/was pretty expensive compared to a number of other design software packages. The cost means that many print shops haven't upgraded their license beyond version 4 (the "controversial" version is version 6) and version 5 has an enhanced file format (i.e. you have to consciously save files as version 4 format files if you are producing with 5 and want someone with version 4 to be able to read the file). (Looking at the Quark site the software doesn't seem that expensive, but maybe the software used to be more expensive).

The print shop market is pretty significant because many designers don't necessarily have their own commercial quality printing facilities and rely on print shops for such services.

So perhaps the new owners were aware of this, wanted to lower the retail price and decided the best way to do that was to lower their labour costs.

It's pretty clear that their approach and their assumptions were incorrect, but their motivation may not have necesarrily been (simply) greed. They made the typical "outsider" assumption that all "IT guys" are the same (now how many of you developers have been asked to do network admin, or helpdesk stuff you wouldn't have a clue about by someone who regards you as another "IT guy"?), which as we know is kind of like assuming that all "Doctor guys" are the same.

Walter Rumsby
Monday, November 17, 2003

Walter, the price has gone up not down. Also, you don't get much of a discount for having bought the previous version. And the new scheme where you have to buy a separate copy for laptop and desktop even though there's only one user doubles the price for almost everyone.

For a few dollars more than one copy of Xpress, you can buy the entire Adobe design suite which includes InDesign, Photoshop AND Illustrator. InDesign is now considered to be a far superior product, is more stable, costs less and has vastly better support and customer service.

Many print shops are staying with version 4 and so to save v4 from 6 you have to save to v5 first, then open it in a copy of v5 and save from there in v4 format. If you don't have a version of 5 on hand, then you are basically SOL. Quack is hoping this tactic will force all the print shops to buy a bunch of upgrades, which will also for many of them require buying all new hardware as well.

InDesign actually has better Quark file format compatibility that Xpress itself does.

King David
Monday, November 17, 2003

This guy here nailed it:

(including a brief history on Quark)

Monday, November 17, 2003

Walter Rumsby, you miss the point completely. There's not some sliding scale of acceptability for junk. What people have been commenting on is incompetence in developing a product. If a product doesn't work well, its price is not relevant.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Also, we're not talking about "IT guys." In fact, I haven't seen the term used in this discussion. We're talking about software developers. There's a big difference. I'm curious as to why you even introduced the term.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Adobe InDesign is (supposedly) a much better product. The problem is that graphic designers (like my girlfriend) cannot switch away from Quark because ALL of the professional print shops use Quark. If the printers won't accept Adobe InDesign files yet, then you can bet that NO professional designers will switch.


Monday, November 17, 2003

Well, too late since a lot of pro designers have switched already. ID can export to pdf, eps, html, svg and postscript. I have never found a printer that couldn't handle at least one of them, though apparently there are quite a few out there. As it is, printers need to be able to handle ID since its got about half the pro market share right now.

King David
Monday, November 17, 2003


I think you miss the point. Personally I found the information about print shops not being able/willing to upgrade significant.

The latest version of Quark is version 6. Presumably when the new owners acquired Quark version 5 had already been released and they noticed that many version 4 license holders weren't upgrading - or at least many version 4 license holders who operate print shops. This market is hugely significant because for many designers who don't have their own commerical quality print facilities the software their print shop uses may determine their own purchasing decisions.

I can envision a situation where the new owners of Quark identified print shops as a key market - if print shops upgraded to version 6 perhaps a good percentage of graphic designers that rely on print shops would too. It is possible Quark decided to lower their price and to lower their price they needed to lower their costs. To lower their costs they probably thought they could save money by outsource their work to developers working for significantly less money.

Clearly they didn't think the process would take as long as it did, so the current list price is not necessarily the intended list price. What if the outsourcers actually delivered the software in 6 months, what if the outsources didn't need Apple staff flying out to help them (for free or otherwise), what if... it had all gone according to the way the new owners had imagined it.

Now of course their imagination is/was seriously divorced from reality, but they saw their current development staff as "IT guys" (i.e. do something with computers, all are geniuses, all can do the same thing - all are completely interchangeable) or at least "programmer guys". This problem happens time and time again in a variety of ways. Obviously the crux of the problem is that they thought that their programmers were easily replaceable, but I thought the information about print shops provides a new perspective on a possible why (other than the glib "they are greedy and evil"). Maybe exploring the whys is useful for those concerned about the impact outsourcing can have on their lives.

I'm disappointed that I have to explain this to an "analyst"?

Walter Rumsby
Monday, November 17, 2003

Dear Walter,
                  The problem isn't that Management was greedy and evil, but that it was stupid and incompetent.

                    In my opinion Balmer and Gates are greedy and evil, but they still produce pretty good software.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

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