Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Has Adobe stopped investing in PDF?

This question "has Adobe stopped investing in PDF?" may seem a bit unfair and sensational but as a blogger I am trying to get attention and so far there seems to be very little interest in MARS.

There is some news on the Matthew Hardy MARS blog

Mars for Adobe Acrobat 9

Adobe Acrobat 9 has just been announced and an update to the Mars plug-in with full Acrobat 9 compliance will be released towards the end of July or early August. Mars continues to be a stand-alone plug-in for Adobe Acrobat, but Acrobat 9 now has built-in knowledge of Mars and will redirect users to our Adobe Labs Mars page when a Mars file is encountered by someone who does not have the Mars plug-in installed.

Posted by Matthew Hardy on June 30, 2008 10:40 AM

So the plug-in will be out about a month after the main release. That is good. But the pace is not really on the same scale as the promotion around AIR or FLEX. This could be because web developers are not interested in PDF as a format unless it can cope with animation and video. My impression of what the corporate audience is used to may be way out of date. Possibly both changing PDF to cope with Flash and rewriting as XML friendly was too much for the time available.

But it could also be that PDF as known before 9, without the Flash, is such a commodity standard that there is no return on the costs of a rewrite and the associated replacement costs. Ideas around XML just seem to have been around for too long to be seen as something with momentum. Could the MARS plugin have been released around the time of 8?

Meanwhile Flash is wonderful of course. Don't get me wrong. I like watching video. But previously I have got used to a release of Acrobat being about PDF as such. Something seems to be changing such that it is now seen as a promotion for Flash. For example I did a portfolio and loaded it onto Acrobat.com. It now has a front cover reading "best viewed with Acrobat 9". This is true, the contents page is now Flash.

Marketing theory suggests that products can be seen as "cash cows" and "rising stars". There are other categories but these are the two that spring to mind. So if PDF is not worth much investment as development or promotion the next question is how the price levels are likely to go. There is very little chance of an "Acrobat Classic", something like 6 at a lower price. But there are options that offer most of the features now known about and they could do well.


At 2:30 PM, Blogger Leonard said...

I think the piece that you are missing in this discussion is that Adobe NO LONGER OWNS PDF...As of June 2007, we turned it over to the ISO (http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressreleases/200701/012907OpenPDFAIIM.html) and in January of 2008, it was ratified as an international standard (ISO 32000 - http://blogs.adobe.com/insidepdf/2008/01/iso_32000_document_management.html).

So while in the past, Adobe would update PDF along with Acrobat - we don't have that luxury any longer and so Acrobat evolves in many other ways...

Leonard Rosenthol
PDF Standards Evangelist
Adobe Systems


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