McIlroy--Winning Battles, Losing Wars
Through all of this, Adobe has lagged in product engineering, but excelled in customer support. While Adobe has some programs that are industry darlings—Photoshop being the leading example—it also offers PageMaker, which is rarely used by high-end designers and publishers. Ever since Adobe bought PageMaker (when it acquired Aldus) more than a half-dozen years ago, its executives have targeted QuarkXPress with a passion that approached obsession.
For several years, the two companies fought the upgrade battle, challenging one another on the quality and quantity of new features, but Quark emerged the consistent winner. Back in the labs, Adobe continued to labor on the Quark-killer it unveiled at Seybold last month.
The challenge is an interesting one, while the victor has yet to be decided. Had the Web never emerged as an alternate publishing medium, I'd be declaring Adobe the likely winner today. Instead, in this Webbed world, I'm just not certain.
The reason why Adobe InDesign is better than QuarkXPress is very simple—it's more extensible. Adobe has done Quark one better and made it possible for third parties to delve deeper into the core functionality of InDesign than they can into QuarkXPress.
The result is that Adobe will be able to deliver better products at a higher margin and gain a higher market profile and ego boost. No contest. While it's certain to take years to dislodge as successful a competitor as Quark, on this basis alone, Adobe would emerge the winner.
Stakes Have Changed
The fly in the ointment is that the stakes have changed. This is no longer strictly an ink-on-paper world. Designers and publishers are ever-increasingly concerned both with print and the Internet. The current solution to the multiple-media challenge is mostly to take print publications and "repurpose" them to the Web—to extract the words and images from the print publication and re-edit and redesign them for Web use.