Adobe Pulling Out of the Print Game?

Don't go Adobe, I'll change!

Earlier this month, without so much as a press release, Adobe made the decision to drop its weightily titled "Adobe Partner Connection Print Service Provider Program." The program offered printers a variety of services, including a complete copy of the Adobe CS, and regular upgrades, for a relatively low ($595 – $995) yearly rate.

When questioned, Adobe defended their position, saying that the product's retirement was due to decreasing membership. And indeed, "only" 3000 or so printers used the service (Hotcards not among them). However, the implications of the planned February 4th shutdown are resonating deeply throughout the industry.

While relatively few printers used the program, most rely on Adobe as a cornerstone of operations. And for many years, printers have been acting as a free technical support service for Adobe, using their own expertise to help print customers work with files created using Adobe's complex software.

Moreover, many printers have converted customers who were using Quark or other desktop publishers to Adobe. Printers themselves made the switch thanks to heightened customer service offering by Adobe, a company that has always claimed to care about printing.

In a statement, Adobe has said that "we continue to be committed to the print segment and it is really important that people don't think Adobe doesn't care about the industry. We do." And yet, to many printers, the words sound almost like a "we'll still be friends" breakup line.

Adobe stopped promoting the Print Service Provider Program a while ago, which may have played a role in slumping membership, and for many, demonstrated obvious signs of pulling away from print just at the moment when the industry is most affected by the recession.

Not surprisingly, the printers hit hardest by the move are small-scale quick print shops, who depended on the single-price membership fee to keep most of their business software in working order and to appeal to in-house design staff.

That being said, the loss of the program itself isn't all that devastating on an industry-wide scale. Before this incident, we had never even heard of it around Hotcards, and while we love Adobe, we more than capable of, 'scuse me, handling our own business.

What's really at issue here is the move itself – the way that it was quietly done, the little business decisions showing Adobe's flagging interest in print – all signs point to a breakup, and this is, perhaps, just the most obvious of many nails in the proverbial relationship coffin.

It's an unfortunate state of affairs, considering that Adobe was one of the major players who helped to build the modern-day print industry, and since they fought Quark tooth and nail for desktop publishing dominance. But will the distancing of Adobe from print really be the worst thing that ever happened? You tell me.

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