Lesson: Choose Your Positive Press Carefully

Lesson: Choose Your Positive Press Carefully

2005
Oct
24

In the ongoing tug of war on the hearts and minds of designers and layout artists everywhere, Quark, Inc. links to positive press to make its case. But should Quark be a little more careful about what they link to? Updated 24 October, 23:15 PT Updated 25 October, 23:15 PT Just about everybody who has […]

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In the ongoing tug of war on the hearts and minds of designers and layout artists everywhere, Quark, Inc. links to positive press to make its case. But should Quark be a little more careful about what they link to?

Updated 24 October, 23:15 PT
Updated 25 October, 23:15 PT

New Quark Logo

Just about everybody who has a commercial presence of some sort, if they’re smart, link to postitve notices about them in the press. Mind share is all important in the battle for the hearts, minds, and dollars of designers and users of layout software everywhere these days.

Quark proves this with its public relations moves, most notably with its recent rebranding and redesigning of the Quark logo and look. And, like many other similar enterprises, a department of the Quark web presence is devoted to postitive publicity; Quark calls it “In The News”. The current top story, “Will Adobe Manage to Replace Industry Work Horse QuarkXPress”, wasn’t originally titled that way; moreover, the credit, a blog called “Hardworking Clown”, is not where the link goes back to…

But I digress. The actual story is a little strange, and is guaranteed to leave one scratching one’s head.

Send in the Clown

On the 14th of October, a blog called “Hardworking Clown” published an article with a title most strange: Will Adobe Manage to Replace Industry Work Horse Quark Express by Giving Adobe InDesign for Free?. What A Great Night.

The blog in question is called Hardworking Clown, and has existed since only September 2005. It seems to consist of nothing more than articles reprinted from a content vendor called EZineArticles.com, sprinkled with illos that are essentially information-free advertisements. Moreover, each post seems to be not one but two EzineArticles.com articles on unrelated subjects stuck together; the latter half of the posting, titled “What a Great Night”, seems to concern itself with a baseball game.

Clown? Maybe. Hardworking? I will leave this as an exercise for the reader.

Naming your own price?

Once again, I digress. The article’s central argument, which holds that Adobe is attempting to supplant Quark by the Microsoft-style embed and conquer (which was what it was trying to do with Internet Explorer) strategy. The argument seems buttressed in the main by listing the prices of each component of the CS2 separately, as if someone would buy the entire CS2 separately instead of getting the consolidated suite.

Here’s their primary exhibit:

  • Adobe Acrobat (“1 user”) $383.73
  • Adobe GoLive $386.15
  • Adobe Illustrator $480.67
  • Adobe InDesign $676.79
  • Adobe Photoshop $548.51 (only Photoshop + Illustrator are $1030 at these prices)

They conclude:

  • The value of the retail products is $2475.85. so, InDesign is absolutely FREE.

I am certainly no expert on rhetorical figures, but this seems to be a large part “straw-man” (positing a notional naîf who would actually go out and buy the entire CS piecemeal) and one huge part leap of illogic–at least, the logical path from buying the CS2 at the regular retail price to getting InDesign for free if on buys all parts at thier piecemeal prices, seems indirect at best (and about as awkward as this last sentence).

The real head-scratchers are the prices, with all the odd cent amounts on. This is something that can, presumably be checked.

Adobe Acrobat is quoted by the writers as being at a street price of $383.73. That seventy-three cents doesn’t sound like Adobe’s style, and there isn’t merely one version of “Acrobat (1-user)” available, but two; Acrobat 7 Pro (the more expensive, feature-endowed version) and Acrobat 7 Standard (for the average Joe who also happens to want to create PDFs).

Acrobat 7 Professional boasts the following pricing (from the Adobe website at www.adobe.com):

  • Acrobat 7 Professional full: $449.00
  • Acrobat 7 Professional upgrade (from Acrobat 6): $159.00
  • Acrobat 7 Standard full: $299.00
  • Acrobat 7 Standard upgrade (from Acrobat 6): $99.00

And that’s from Adobe, directly which, if you can, is the method I recommend anyone buy Adobe software. If you go with discount houses, be extremely careful. Many places can provide you with excuciatingly low prices on high-end graphics software, but frequently they are cracked and hacked versions.

Also, note the comparatively deeply discounted prices for upgraders. This is a successful strategy on Adobe’s part that enables many users to stay current. Upgrading from CS to CS2 amounts to about 1/2 the cost of original entry.

Interested in where the authors got that price on Adobe Acrobat, I ran the search term Adobe Acrobat $383.73 through Google. Nine results were returned. Only three of them linked exact. They were all links to other sites running that particular article. I could find absolutely no links to any sites anywhere selling any Adobe Acrobat for $383.73. Why the odd amount? Shipping charges included? The authors leave absolutely no clue as to how they arrived at their figures.

A bit later on in the article the authors note that at software reseller AtomicPark.com (which seems to have a solid reputation behind it) offers QuarkXPress for $707.00 (you still apparently have to go to the Quark site to get the free 6.5 upgrade). That much is true. What the authors oddly leave out is that if you go to the Quark corporate website you can get QuarkXPress 6.5 for $699.00 now.

More fun facts and wordplay

The article carries on similarly in other ways: that Adobe claims InDesign will “kill” Quark (the title was bestowed by the media, not Adobe), that Adobe bought Aldus and Pagemaker to “kill” Quark (not exactly), that Adobe’s creation of the Creative Suite is an illegal bundling strategy to lock in customers to InDesign (then why isn’t Quark taking Adobe to court?), inscrutable numbers on training time and learning curve which I can’t trust, given the price discussions above, and the requirement of getting new computers, bluntly asserting “older computers (let’s say 1 year old) will choke and kill your productivity trying to run the new Creative Suite 2, and waiting for anything to load, and run. You need a new computer to run the software, period“. To be blunt, that’s asinine; my setup is a PowerMac G4 dual-processor 1.25 GHz “Mirrored Drive Door” model from 2003. It runs them acceptably well. This computer is two years old.

The bottom line here is that the article is, in my opinion, wrong. What’s more surprising is that is was authored by two authors who, judging by thier credentials, I’d expect more polished insights.

That Quark would link to such an article so prominently just leaves me scratching my head. Just what is going on over there in Quarkville?

But wait, there’s less!

The mere linking to such a strangely-presented article is one thing. Few stories, which would otherwise be insignificant if handled better, have such a strange afterlife.

Originally, on or about the 15th of October, the article was posted to the Quark web page with the title Will Adobe Manage to Replace Industry Work Horse Quark Express by Giving Adobe InDesign for Free? left intact, even as to spelling. Quark, on its own front page, ignored an egregious missepelling of its flagship, signature product. For a company renowned for its recent attentive care of its public image, this sort of thing sticks out like a sore thumb.

By the 19th of October, someone at Quark must have realized how that looked, for it was then changed to simply Will Adobe Manage To Replace Industry Work Horse…, which was still linked to the “Hardworking Clown” posting.

Today, 24 October 2005, was found yet another change: the title now links to the business blog of one of the actual co-authors of the actual article, and now reads Will Adobe Manage To Replace Industry Work Horse QuarkXPress . But that’s not all: the link credit (in small type in green just below the title still credits the Hardworking Clown.

It all leaves one wondering where this news item will go next. A final warning: if one chooses to proceed to the author’s blog site, please be kind to them. She’s taken a fair beating; the comments left on it are not for the faint of heart, or for childrens eyes.

And the battle rages on.

See Quark’s “In The News” page, and the link to the article. [Link to article removed from that page 25 Oct 2005 –Ed.]

Update, 24 Oct 2005, 20:45 PDT approximate

Within what must have been mere minutes after posting the above article, the author of the article has deleted all comments and turned off commenting for the entry (click here to go straight to it at “Valor Crossmedia”).

There is still a link to a reference article, which turns out to be a review of InDesign CS2 that details why a perodical (the newsletter of the Chicago-area Mac User Group “The NorthWest of Us”) switched away from Quark to InDesign. How this review, which details less than satisfactory interaction with Quark and XPress 6 contrasted with superior treatment from the Adobe rep, is a suitable reference for the article is another exercise for the reader.

The article has also caught fire in the Quark Forums (with an opening post that broke the display), including a response from the author Galina Arlov.

Update: PDF of original article and comments

24 Oct 2005, 23:15 PDT (by Pariah S. Burke)

The Quark VS InDesign.com staff has learned that, in cases like this “Will Adobe Manage To Replace Industry Work Horse…” article, which jumped sites, changed article content post-publication without divulging that fact, and deleted reader comments (at least once), proof is everything. So, of course, we made a PDF of the article–including comments from readers of the article.

Although at least one reader comment was removed prior to our seeing it (noted inline as “removed by the [comment] author”), the rest are intact despite the site owner’s deliberate deletion of all comments.

Here, for your benefit, is the article as of 24 October 2005, 19:25 PT. (PDF, 98kb)

And, misspelling of “Quark Express” and all, is the version of the same article as stored in Google’s cache from 12 October, 2005, 08:46 GMT. (PDF, 139kb)

Update: Quark, Inc. removes link to story from its news site

25 Oct 2005, 23:15 PDT (by Samuel John Klein)

Sometime during the day, 25 Oct 05, Quark, Incorporated removed the link to the story from it’s “In The News” page. The story now at the top of the list is the link to the X-Ray Magazine promotion.

The article is still posted at the Valor Cross Media site (linked above).

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