Quark lays out its designs on the future
About a decade ago a highly successful Denver, Colorado, software company called Quark, makers of what then was the best desktop publishing application on the planet, shot itself in the foot.
Quark’s new chief executive, Ray Schiavone, recently in Australia to talk to customers and demonstrate his new broom, says the wounds have healed and that a new, customer-centric philosophy has been instilled in the company, but concedes that easy walking is still some way ahead. But Quark is not a basket case. It is still on the publishing radar worldwide but lost its market dominance through what former customers say was corporate arrogance.
In the late ’90s Quark had more than 90% of the worldwide DTP market and seemed to believe it was beyond reproach or attack.
Quark Xpress was good software, but was regarded as overpriced and old. It was not meeting the demands of the new web-based publishing generation, yet customers’ pleas for innovation and a price cut were ignored.
Mr Schiavone admits the company’s past shortcomings but says a new order is well established. The opportunity is there, he says, to re-establish Quark as market leader but he sees it as a formidable task.
No one was more grateful for Quark’s arrogance in the late 1990s than Adobe Systems, inventors of the PostScript page description language, the portable document format (PDF) and such seminal products as Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat, the free reader for which is on almost every personal computer. Adobe also makes InDesign, the page layout application that it introduced in 1999, just as criticism of Quark was reaching crescendo.
InDesign has also been closely integrated with the other principal tools of the graphic designer – Photoshop, Illustrator and others – to form Adobe’s Creative Suite, which allows publication and multi-purposing of text, graphics and other content on print, web and mobile media. Quark now aims to match or surpass Adobe’s now well-established package.
Mr Schiavone says it is also developing new ways to deliver its software and services in response to customers’ needs.
Quark’s Australian regional director, Alex Nemeth (pictured), says Quark has two offerings: one for the desktop, essentially the new version, Quark Xpress 8, as a shrink-wrapped product, and the other, for which Quark has great hopes, for the enterprise.
The latter, called Dynamic Publishing, is a single-source, multi-channel publishing system. “We have a collaboration engine in there, a server engine, and various other modules; looking at the whole publishing life cycle. We’re talking to the traditional market – the agencies large and small and the publishing houses – but there is a large market in the large corporate markoms (marketing and communications) divisions,” MrNemeth says.
Corporations want to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, he says. “So we look at the amount of information they are replicating across multiple points – annual reports, brochures, profit disclosure and other statements to shareholders and the stock market – going to websites, mobile phones, and print.”
Mr Nemeth speaks of talking to an Australian publishing house with more than 50 titles that “has a booming requirement for the web. They are running five or six websites per magazine or newsletter. Their challenge is how do they get re-use of content without having to do it manually. “A huge amount of manual work is currently going on in that space. We’re talking about creating the content once and from there going to print, web, mobile and different versions of print, brochure or company statements,” he says. “It’s pretty exciting.”