Corel buys photo software maker Jasc

The graphics specialist hopes to take a bite out of Adobe's Photoshop business with the acquisition.
Written by David Becker, Contributor
Corel is looking to expand its graphics software business and steal a little attention from Adobe Systems and Microsoft with its acquisition Thursday of digital photo specialist Jasc Software.

The deal marks the first major expansion by Corel since it became a privately held company last year, upon its takeover by Vector Capital. Terms of the Jasc buy were not disclosed.

Jasc sells three versions of Paint Shop, a collection of image-editing, photo organization and other tools that compete with products such as Adobe's Photoshop line and Microsoft's Digital Image Suite.

Corel CEO Amish Mehta said the software maker would continue to sell Paint Shop versions as standalone products. However, it will also work on packaging Jasc tools with complementary Corel products, such as CorelDraw Graphics Suite and Painter, he added.

"If you look at the Paint Shop product today, it's already a pretty solid contender against Photoshop," he said. "If we add in functionality from CorelDraw and other products, that's going to make it even more compelling."

Adobe, which has long dominated the professional side of digital imaging with the full version of Photoshop, has expanded its hobbyist pitch in recent years with scaled-back versions of Photoshop and other products. "Our philosophy is to try to get it out to as many people as possible, and hopefully they'll stick with Adobe when they're ready for something that does a little more," Jim Mohan, senior product manager at Adobe, has said in relation to Photoshop Album.

Add the new photo and existing graphics tools to WordPerfect--Corel's productivity package that competes with Microsoft Office and Sun Microsystem's StarOffice--and Corel now covers most of the bases for consumer software, Mehta said.

"We're putting together a complete set of alternatives to Adobe and Microsoft for value-conscious consumers," he said.

Mehta expects the combination to be particularly compelling for PC manufacturers that want to consolidate the software packages they offer preinstalled on new machines. PC leader Dell, for example, already offers both WordPerfect and Paint Shop bundled with its Dimension consumer PCs.

"We already have a lot of bundled software out in the marketplace, and this is just going to make us even more competitive there," he said.

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