At MacExpo London Quark will add to its product line with an innovative new product.
Mum’s the word in Denver about what is described in a 4 October press release as “an innovative new product from Quark.” What is this new product? Quark declined to return my calls asking for comment.
The new product could be almost anything. A number of high profile publishers have recently announced their adoption of Quark’s publishing workflow management systems, Quark Publishing System (QPS) and Quark Dynamic Document Server (QuarkDDS). We could be looking at an add-on for QPS or QuarkDDS, maybe one that extends their programming support and versatility into the range of SOAP-driven InDesign Server.
MacExpo London could bring a Photoshop competitor, too. QuarkXPress has been losing ground to InDesign partly because of the tight integration of that application with Adobe’s defacto standard image editor and the bundling of InDesign and Photoshop into Adobe’s Creative Suite. A viable Photoshop competitor could boost XPress sales.
Last year Quark acquired A Lowly Apprentice Productions, a plug-in maker known for its expertise with Photoshop (ALAP’s technology became the PSD import and manipulation tools in QuarkXPress 7). Quark has also been extremely cozy with Apple since 2002, even borrowing some of Apple’s programmers for development of XPress 6.x and 7. Independent of Quark, Apple has been chipping away at the base of the monolithic Photoshop by bundling Photoshop-like and Photoshop-exact features into the OS X operating system and Apple’s own applications. Other Apple developments are erecting tents just beyond Adobe’s other borders, hinting that a concerted siege may be forthcoming.
Allying with Quark to topple Adobe’s singular hold on the professional image editing and photo-retouching markets would be a giant check in the win column for both Apple and Quark.
Could the mystery application be a consumer-level QuarkXPress-lite to compete with a rumored in-the-works InDesign Elements? Not likely. Quark’s just isn’t interested in serving consumer and prosumer markets, and those markets just aren’t as important to Quark’s continued survival as top-end publishing and high-volume production. (For the record, I don’t believe the rumors that Adobe is working on InDesign Elements, either–at least, not such a product to be released any time soon.)
So, what could Quark’s new product be? It could be a lot of things, but I have a theory.
I think it’s a multi-media publishing tool. Imagine QuarkXPress meets Dreamweaver, with (almost) one-button simultaneous output to HTML, XML, Flash, HTMLHelp, Windows Help format, and PDF. Consider a QuarkXPress-esque WYSIWYG Web and electronic document editor without all the silly little icons and dotted lines that mar Dreamweaver–an editing environment with the simplicity and cleanliness of QuarkXPress and a for-print QuarkXPress document. Now add in an HTML/XML source editor. Lastly, imagine if this new hybrid could also create PDF electronic forms with tools and a user environment more familiar and intuitive to creative and production pros than the Microsoft Access-inspired Adobe LiveCycle Designer.
On what do I base this wild theory? Quark’s own words of course.
In November 2005 Quark commissioned a survey from Absolut Data Research & Analytics. At the time, Quark VS InDesign.com reported on the survey because it contained explicit details about the features and functionality of the then as-yet (and still) unannounced InDesign CS3 and all of Creative Suite 3. Also in that survey were several questions hinting at a possible QuarkXPress-inspired Web design tool. The survey even put forth a feature list and proposed price–US$299–for the hypothetical application.
In a similar online survey last month from Absolut Data Research & Analytics, the same Web authoring application was discussed again, in greater detail.
My theory is further bolstered by confidential sources inside Quark who told Quark VS InDesign.com that developer groups in Quark’s India and Switzerland offices have been spending a lot of time learning about HTML, CSS, and XML/XHTML.
While the market is holding its breath for Creative Suite 3, when Adobe is expected to make good use of its acquired Macromedia technology to deliver a true multimedia publishing platform with InDesign and InCopy at its core, such a publishing system from Quark, six months ahead of Adobe’s expected April 2007 CS3 release date, could steal some of the wind from Adobe’s sails.
Is any of this relevant? Is my theory of a Quark Web layout application or xtensions add-on suite for XPress correct? Or, will we see Quark PhotoXPress, QuarkXPress Server, or something else entirely?
We’ll know in two weeks.
Quark Senior Vice President of Desktop Products, Jurgen Kurz, will deliver a keynote presentation 26 October, 2006 at MacExpo London. Kurz will discuss the latest developments at Quark, preview several products planned for future release, and, of course, launch the next new Quark product.
Registration for the keynote presentation is separate from registration to the MacExpo exhibition. Quark notes that all keynote attendees will be given complimentary access to MacExpo following Kurz’s keynote. First come, first served registration is available at Quark’s European Website.