Thursday, August 2, 2007

Adobe vs. the printshops

&Adobe has been taking a lot of flak over the past few weeks for it's decision to include a 'Send to FedEx Kinkos' button on its 8.1 update for Adobe Reader / Acrobat Pro.  Well on August 1st Adobe apparently blinked and agreed to remove the link in an upcoming release
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.
Adobe's solution, to remove the button and let Kinko's distribute a special version with the button in it partly solves the problem.  I think a better solution would have been to develop a framework for letting the small printers get in on the built in action.  Imagine a 'find local printers' option in Acrobat, type in your zip code, and see a list of participating printers in your area.  Adobe could provide a server framework for receiving print jobs, and each local printer would have the option of either managing their own server for receiving jobs, or work with Adobe and use Adobe's servers.

It wouldn't be easy. It would be a lot of work on Adobe's part, as well as for the local printer.  Making sure the local printer has the capabilities to handle the submitted job would be difficult, but there are a lot of smart people at Adobe.  I think this approach would be a better balance between Adobe's two customer bases than their current solution of removing the button all together.  Granted, Kinko's will now be distributing their own version of Reader, but that ends up being less convenient for the content producers, who would have to download a special version, rather than the one they get from Adobe.

The print shop industry needs to start thinking differently about the marketplace as we move into an ever more networked world.  The print industry needs to take a lesson from the music industry.  Fighting technology and making life more difficult for your customers is not a winning strategy in the long run.  

Change is difficult, but rather than kicking and screaming about how Adobe hates the little guy, they should be looking at 'how can I get in on this so I can make things easier for my customers too?'

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