Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

Summary: Remember Buzzword? If Adobe's previous SaaS acquisitions are anything to go by, today's news is less cause for celebration than commiseration with EchoSign's users and fans over the next few years.

SHARE:

Congratulations to the team at EchoSign on the company's acquisition by Adobe (see also Techmeme coverage). I'm sorry to say, though, that if Adobe's previous SaaS acquisitions are anything to go by, today's news is likely to be less of a cause for celebration than commiseration with EchoSign's users and fans over the next few years.

Largely unnoticed except by those in the know, EchoSign has been a fixture of the SaaS landscape for many years. The secret of its success has been its use of the cloud to make something effortless that has always been a pain in the physical world — the signing and exchange of business contracts.

Since those contracts are increasingly created and delivered as PDF documents, the synergy with Adobe's Acrobat product line and more especially with its Acrobat.com online applications portal should be self-evident. But recall what Adobe has done with its earlier acquisitions and immediately the outlook seems less sanguine.

Remember Buzzword? Adobe acquired the WYSIWYG online word processor in October 2007 and subsequently made it the cornerstone of its online collaboration portal. But although Buzzword still exists as part of Acrobat.com, it doesn't feature on the latest version of the portal, which was introduced last November.

A discussion thread from around that time on Adobe's Buzzword online user forum sums up the feelings of once-passionate users about what happened to Buzzword in Adobe's care. This comment headed Leaving Buzzword / Acrobat.com for Evernote is in so many ways a perfect summary of why big, established conventional software companies rarely succeed with innovative SaaS products:

"Adobe is a large, established and profitable company with lots of resources. Evernote is a small startup. Adobe probably has littlle priority placed on making their online apps great, Evernote will live or die by the greatness of their one app. Buzzword has seen no significant updates in the last year. Evernote has seen 4-5. When it comes to advancing and enhancing their product, I'm placing my bet on Evernote over Buzzword."

As for Adobe's hopes for Acrobat.com to challenge the likes of Microsoft and Google as a platform for business collaboration, another contributor to the thread has a scathing but well-founded put-down: "Unfortunately, Acrobat.com is the bimbo of cloud office suites. It looks hot, but has no depth." To think I headlined my November 2007 posting about its ambitions, "Web collaboration: Cisco and Adobe duke it out." What a pathetic sideshow that fight turned out to be. (Here's my verdict on Cisco's efforts: WebEx augurs ill for Cisco's cloud ambitions).

And of course the reason Acrobat.com is starved of investment and drive to fulfil those ambitions is the simple fear of cannibalisation of Adobe's established businesses. A few months back I wanted to create a PDF form that could be completed and sent in by email, but that's not something I can do on the Acrobat.com website because it would impact sales of Adobe's flagship LifeCycle document management server products.

It's just as I wrote back in October 2007: "Eventually, Adobe will find itself conflicted by difficult choices as the functionality of the two product sets begins to converge: should it accelerate development of the online products in the expectation of future revenues or hold them back in order to protect existing licence sales?" In the event, it didn't even get that far. Will EchoSign get dragged down by similar conflicts of interest? It seems to me that outcome is almost a dead-cert prediction.

Topics: Banking, Browser, Cloud, Collaboration, Data Centers, Data Management, Emerging Tech, Enterprise Software, Software

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

11 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

    With a client base as Groupon , Google, Facebook and 30,000 other enterprise level accounts and 3millions users - obviously , The world sign's with EchoSign which is The eSign leader at the market - wrecking will happen to technology incompetent products not to leaders .
    eitansaban
    • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

      @eitansaban [url=http://www.dvdtoipadconverters.com]DVD to iPad Converter[/url]
      [url=http://www.youtuberipper.org]YouTube Ripper[/url]
      [url=http://www.iphonesmsbackup.info]iPhone SMS Backup[/url]
      [url=http://www.ipodtoipodtransfer.info]iPod to iPod Transfer[/url]
      [url=http://www.iphonesmstransfer.net]iPhone SMS Transfer[/url]
      [url=http://www.iphonetomactransfer.info]iPhone to Mac Transfer[/url]
      [url=http://www.ipodtomactransfer.info]iPod to Mac Transfer[/url]
      eehpwzkeau
  • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

    Probably not the best news for echosign especially with several other SaaS digital signature providers like rightsignature and docusign only getting better and bigger. interesting to see what adobe looks to do
    NHedger
    • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

      @NHedger Really? Rightsignature is a blip-- and the only thing getting bigger at DocuSign is the amount of funding it's taken to keep it afloat (that and number of ex-CEOs) Take the easiest e-sign app, integrate it with the standard tool/format for document creation & archiving-- and add Adobe sales and marketing engine behind it. Looks pretty solid to me.
      douglasmenics
      • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

        @douglasmenics Really. Adobe's apps are never easy to use, as seen by the posts below, and working with echosign's current API is a wreck.
        NHedger
  • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

    EchoSign processes only about 20% of the eSignature volume (check out compete.com) and has got there by being really simple. Adobe is not known to be simple across their product lines. I expect a culture clash with EchoSign talent leaving and Adobe putting EchoSign as a feature into one of their products.
    mikebz
  • Adobe has terrible business models

    As a graphic artist, I am forced to use Illustrator because Adobe bought Macromedia (in order to acquire Flash) several years ago and killed Freehand. It's been several product cycles since then, and Adobe still hasn't incorporated the best parts of Freehand into Illustrator (namely it's text handling capacities). They seem to think that if you need to work with text, you should use InDesign instead. When you're creating information graphics, InDesign is not always the best tool.

    This year, a client was kind enough to upgrade my CS3 to CS5. But he didn't get the Acrobat option, because for some reason, Adobe has separated the CS5 from their new Acrobat 10, and didn't offer him that particular bundle. When I contacted Adobe, they said I would have to pay the full retail price for Acrobat if I wanted it. My full CS3 suite was not eligible for just an Acrobat upgrade.

    If I could, I would dump Adobe. But they have usurped all competing technologies. Originally, I thought Steve Jobs' decision not to include Flash on the iPad was intransigence. But now I applaud him for it. I just wish I could find some other economical way to stream audio and video for my websites than Flash.
    hmt3
    • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

      @hmt3 Try http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/
      KenCavallon
  • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

    They'll improve it just as they improved Acrobat with the release of version 9, and Reader with the release of versions 8, 9, and 10. I hope you like your software with bazillions of meaningless floating palettes and a hyperbolic learning curve.
    Vesicant
  • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

    You can bet on it!
    bobert1@...
  • RE: Will Adobe wreck EchoSign?

    <p>Coach handbags and purses at the <a href="http://www.coachfactoryoutletcenter.com" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? with new designs make them have the most outstanding and eye-catching advantage among other brands goods.<a href="http://www.coachfactoryoutletcenter.com" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? handbags You can not just save your cash but also your time inside a convenient way to obtain the exact same bags product and do not be concerned the shippment of one's products.In terms of the quality and superior design that make more and more customers are satisfied to <a href="http://www.coachfactoryoutletcenter.com" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>????.Welcome!Come by for dinner soon and check out the wine list for yourself. We are always here to help with selection. Cheers for the successful of <a href="http://www.coachfactoryoutletcenter.com" title="coach factory outlet store"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet store</strong></h1></a>????.</p><p><a href="http://www.coach--purses.com" title="coach purses"><h1><strong>coach purses</strong></h1></a>???? have to be considered the most wanted designer purses in the world. Known around the globe for their excellent craftsmanship and trendy styles, these purses are worshiped by millions.The <a href="http://www.coach--purses.com" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? has been in business for many years. You can log in to find more information about its products and services.The Coach bag is from the latest release of Coach Bags. Its crisp, scribble material, leather handle, perfectly complements the relaxed shape of this stylish pouch. All the items of <a href="http://www.coach--purses.com" title="coach outlet online"><h1><strong>coach outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? Store fit all of your essentials and more.If you want to buy quality Coach products at lower prices, visiting <a href="http://www.coach--purses.com" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? online can be your best decision.</p><p>Where there are women, there are bags. Where there are bags, there are <a href="http://www.coachbagsoutletsstore.org" title="coach bags"><h1><strong>coach bags</strong></h1></a>????. Coach products are the direction indicator of the latest fashion and trend.Coach is a renowned leather brand throughout the world. <a href="http://www.coachbagsoutletsstore.org" title="coach handbags"><h1><strong>coach handbags</strong></h1></a>???? are famous for their special designs and beautiful shapes.Bright colors, exquisite workmanship, durable material and up-to-date style all lead to the great fame of the goods in <a href="http://www.coachbagsoutletsstore.org" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>????.Do not miss the opportunity to get the Coach Outlet Coupons.<a href="http://www.coachbagsoutletsstore.org" title="coach outlet store"><h1><strong>coach outlet store</strong></h1></a>???? spends more efforts on building their own brand.</p><p><a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinesstores.net" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? has become necessary in everyday life of women seeking fashion and simple designs simple and elegant to look at very affordable and practical.If you desire to go to <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinesstores.net" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>????, but have no idea in which to go, you can research online. It is no doubt that there is drastically information and details about it for the reference.<a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinesstores.net" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? is one of the most popular and successful leather brands in the U.S. market.Coach stands for the most-admired innovative style and conventions in American fashion.That <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinesstores.net" title="coach factory store online"><h1><strong>coach factory store online</strong></h1></a>???? annually consultation on item pattern to 5,000 high-end consumers, investing of as a good deal as much more than three million bucks a year.</p><p><a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinestore1.org" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? can provide the coach exactly the same is expected in a retail store. It can help you find bags of various colors, shapes and designs, which prove once again that the coach is actually a selection for the housekeeper.Would you like to meet more friends, or go with the times? If yes, <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinestore1.org" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? is opening welcome doors to you.<a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinestore1.org" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? is famous for the discounts it offers. Latest coach purses and sunglasses can be purchased at discounted rates from this coach outlet store.Coach Bags in the <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinestore1.org" title="coach factory store online"><h1><strong>coach factory store online</strong></h1></a>???? feature a front red stripe with a red Coach logo on op art print sateen and other details, such as the double soft red straps, which allow for carrying conveniently and comfortably.</p><p>It's wonderful to find out it does not slip in your signature at the bottom of the case and the appearance of brass accents from <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinex.com" title="coach outlet online"><h1><strong>coach outlet online</strong></h1></a>????, Because women who can look stylish this summer.When I first went to the web site <a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinex.com" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>????,I wasn't sure what to expect.Then,once I was scrolling through the handbags I saw this and I was fond of it!Once I received it, it matched my cell phone and no matter what I put in it, it never hurt my shoulder.<a href="http://www.coachoutletonlinex.com" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? offers you the modern and very comfortable coach bags. Since many women often do not know things and are daily buses to challenge their handbags handbag, also comprehensive.The reputation of the coach outlet with the good old bag, was actually the original inspiration came from a softball glove, Cheap replica Coach Handbags features soft.</p><p>There certainly are a amount of methods to acquire affordable coach products at <a href="http://www.coachhoutlett.com" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>????,it could possibly the most effective options.the most vital cause may be the reality that you simply can purchase genuine coach products at there.Attention! <a href="http://www.coachhoutlett.com" title="coach outlet"><h1><strong>coach outlet</strong></h1></a>???? is offering new products at favorable prices for August. Brighter colors, finer looks and newer designs, all bring you a whole new summer.<a href="http://www.coachhoutlett.com" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? are loved by many people, when you walk in the street, you could see many people take coach styles.<a href="http://www.coachhoutlett.com" title="coach factory"><h1><strong>coach factory</strong></h1></a>???? outlet has new coach laptop bags in listing. No matter which style do you want, we can provide it for you.</p><p><a href="http://www.coachoutletfactoryss.net" title="coach factory outlet online"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet online</strong></h1></a>???? is one of the most popular and successful leather brands in the U.S. market.Coach stands for the most-admired innovative style and conventions in American fashion.The reputation of the coach outlet with the good old bag, was actually the original inspiration came from a softball glove, Cheap replica Coach Handbags features soft.Today, following half a century, mentor leather-bases <a href="http://www.coachoutletfactoryss.net" title="coach factory outlet"><h1><strong>coach factory outlet</strong></h1></a>???? continues to be the delicate craft of leather-based master is accountable for,Sweet and petite, Coach purse is a gorgeous standout. Featuring the most fashionable styles and the best upscale quality, Coach goods at the <a href="http://www.coachoutletfactoryss.net" title="coach factory store"><h1><strong>coach factory store</strong></h1></a>???? are definitely your choice.</p>
    erica55