Quark CEO: It's our fault kids don't know us

Why don't young designers know QuarkXPress? Because the company ignored and failed to invest in Australia, according to Quark's CEO, Ray Schiavone.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Why don't young designers know QuarkXPress? Because the company has ignored and failed to invest in Australia, according to Quark's CEO, Ray Schiavone.

Once the top dog in desktop publishing, QuarkXPress has been in decline since the 1999 release of its main rival, Adobe's InDesign Creative Suite. Schiavone now says the Denver-based company is back and ready for battle with Adobe — but the fight won't be over the desktop.

"The goal isn't to fight [Adobe] for share on the desktop," he told ZDNet.com.au.

"Quark is going through a transformation... [We're] moving from our desktop emphasis to a broader strategy to the online publishing process," Schiavone said.

QuarkXPress has defined Quark for many years, but since its desktop heyday ended, the internet and the growing market for mobile phone content have created a gap that Schiavone hopes to fill with Quark's Dynamic Publishing Solution (DPS) software — a work flow and design suite that he says will help companies re-use content across multiple media, from print and internet publishing, to mobile phones.

"We want to solve the multi-channel publishing problem," said Schiavone. While magazine publishers, for example, often produce for print and online, Schiavone says printing houses, which operate on "razor margins", are being asked to provide products across all multimedia types. He hopes these businesses will adopt its DPS software.

"I would contend that not unlike Apple in the late nineties that recharged their innovation engine, this is exactly what we're doing at Quark — we're recharging our innovation engine," Schiavone said.

During the past several years, the CEO says Quark has failed to invest in Australia, resulting in poor awareness and sluggish revenues from the country.

"Arguably Australia should provide two to three per cent of our global revenue," Schiavone said. "We're not quite there right now."

"We haven't invested in a local presence for a while to any substantial degree and have certainly not focused on the enterprise side... We didn't completely abandon the market, but we didn't invest in it to develop the market for us as well," he added. The only distributor for QuarkXPress in Australia remains educational publisher and distributor, Scholastic, which it signed in 2005.

A longer term challenge will be re-engaging educational institutions, and remedying its exclusion from graphic design school curriculums.

"To our own fault, we didn't spend enough time on the education market, so there is a new generation of designers who are coming out of the design schools that aren't as familiar with Quark," Schiavone said.

Despite this lack of engagement, Schiavone says Quark's latest incarnation of XPress, version 8, will impress at least its familiar, older user base. Compared to previous versions, QuarkXPress 8 offers greater control over text alignment and a more efficient user interface, says Schiavone.

"[We've] reduced the number of clicks necessary to achieve the tasks they want to do, but also to expose some of the functionality that we've built in over the last couple of releases," he said.

Compared to Adobe InDesign, Schiavone says: "Customers argue that Quark is the easier product to use ... but we haven't been vocal about the direction we're taking, and we haven't listened enough," he said.

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