Thursday, August 02, 2007

Adobe Makes Decision, To Move Quickly to Resolve Printing Industry Concerns

Adobe Makes Decision, To Move Quickly to Resolve Printing Industry Concerns
Posted by Cary Sherburne on August 1, 2007

Although the official release is not yet out (6 PM Eastern on August 1), Michael Makin, CEO of PIA/GATF was kind enough to contact WhatTheyThink to let us know about the decision Adobe has made relative to the FedEx Kinko's brouhaha. (UPDATE: See Adobe's statement below.) Makin indicates that at the July 17th meeting, he had suggested that the best solution for everyone would be for Adobe to extricate itself from the FedEx Kinko's contract and issue a software update that removes the 'print to FedEx Kinko's' button that has created such a firestorm in the printing industry. "Lo and behold," said Makin, "that is exactly what they are going to do. Adobe will be issuing Version 8.1.1 of Acrobat and Reader that will not contain the FedEx Kinko's button, and Acrobat's auto update will remove the button from any Version 8.1 installations." (See PIA/GATF's official statement)

According to Makin, FedEx Kinko's will be able to distribute Version 8.1 to its customers, and he believes there will be no objection to that approach. The button will not appear in future releases. Makin adds, "Apparently, FedEx has also been very cooperative and magnanimous in their handling of this situation with Adobe. It is a tremendous day for the printing industry, and for independent printers from coast to coast. It signals to PIA/GATF that Adobe is concerned about its relationship with indpenedent printers and does heed the advice of the industry. I give kudos to the CEO of Adobe, who right from the start was sincerely contrite, and to Robin Tobin and Johnny Loiacono for all of their hard work."

Makin believes that the solution is likely to cost Adobe financially, but the move indicates Adobe's belief that the continued support of the industry is worth it. He adds, "It was magnificent, and almost unheard of for a Fortune 500 company to take an action like this so rapidly."

It appears that it will be 8 to 10 weeks before the upgrade is available, which, considering the work that needs to go into preparing, packaging and distributing a new software release of the magnitude of Acrobat, is a very reasonable timeframe.

WhatTheyThink adds its congratulations to Adobe and is delighted the issue has been resolved in a manner that appears to be the best solution for everyone. It remains to be seen what moves Adobe might make in the future., if any, to make it easier for printers to customize Acrobat and Reader for their own customer base and/or to leverage even more strongly its ASN network.

As this story develops tonight and on Thursday, we will add more details including comments from Adobe and others.

Statement sent to WTT from Adobe
Adobe will remove the "Send to FedEx Kinko's" service and functionality, currently available to US customers, in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat. The versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat that are scheduled to be released in October will not contain the feature. We are implementing these changes as quickly as we can. However, we need time to write and test the software. Adobe Reader and Acrobat are critical pieces of software for tens of millions of customers and we have to be sure the software we deliver is up to its usual quality.

Adobe originally announced the FedEx Kinko's features on June 6, 2007 and decided to remove them from Adobe Reader and Acrobat following a meeting and getting feedback from print service providers. Moving forward Adobe is setting up a Print Advisory Council to investigate how best to integrate third party print services into Adobe products, as more partners invest in online print infrastructures.

FedEx Kinko's has been exemplary in this process. They understand the reasons behind the decision and the implications to the broader print service provider industry. They have worked diligently with Adobe to craft a resolution. When Adobe ships the new updates to Acrobat and Adobe Reader in October, FedEx Kinko's will begin distributing a version of Adobe Reader, with the "Send to FedEx Kinko's" functionality, directly to its customers. This version will be available only from the FedEx Kinko's website ( or

Adobe's revenue expectations from this functionality were not expected to be material and this change will have little to no impact on Adobe's financial results. Adobe will make no revenue from this new arrangement.

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