Adobe, FedEx Kinko’s Pact Creates Firestorm —Michelson

ONE MIGHT well have thought the dangerous wildfires that ravaged parts of California and other Western states this summer also engulfed Adobe Systems’ headquarters in San Jose. They did not. But Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen should have donned his fire protection gear anyway, especially after landing in the hot seat following his software company’s June 6 pact with FedEx Kinko’s. The two companies collaborated to incorporate a “send to FedEx Kinko’s” button within Adobe Reader 8.1 and Adobe Acrobat 8.1 software—making it appear to many in the industry that Adobe is endorsing one print provider. The move has incensed independent and franchise commercial and quick printers, in-plants, as well as the associations that serve them.

In fact, the uproar has been deafening. This “business move insults industry loyalty” and “we felt terribly betrayed,” wrote the PIA/GATF, pointing to the negative feedback it received from its 12,000 member companies. The agreement “comes at the expense of many other printers…who have played such a pivotal role in establishing Adobe as the defacto standard among end users for reading documents and printing file submission,” chimed the NAPL and NAQP in a similar letter to Chizen. Even 81 percent of print buyers responding to a Print Buyers (PBO) quick poll were opposed. As PBO’s Suzanne Morgan points out in her blog on, “I’m surprised that one or both companies didn’t do test marketing or focus groups to understand the possible impact on their customers and brands…They need to step up to the plate and engage their customers at this critical time.”

In response, Adobe went into damage control mode by doing just that. On July 17, Chizen met with more than two dozen industry executives in person and by phone. To his credit, he was frank in admitting his company’s misstep, but Chizen would not reveal the terms of the FedEx Kinko’s contract nor would he commit to immediately severing the agreement between the two companies.

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