Magazine article Editor & Publisher

More Choices, Challenges

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

More Choices, Challenges

Article excerpt

New systems, platesetters, and presses for a new century

What well may be the biggest names in prepress software and pressroom hardware made the biggest waves in 1999. Goss Graphic Systems' financial and organizational restructuring, and Quark's new products and reassignment of its publishing system development and marketing, however, may prove more consequential for the companies than their customers, as both now have more serious competition.

After a difficult year, Goss changed chief executives, packaged a reorganization in summer, and promptly emerged from bankruptcy in fall under a lighter debt load. It closed its Reading, Pa., plant and moved all Universal production to Nantes, France.

In an unexpected postscript to a long, bitter battle to slap anti-dumping duties on its principal foreign competitors, Goss won preliminary government approval to exempt from such duties what appears to be the very press that sparked the original complaint. While industry observers believe each benefits from the singular exemption, neither Goss nor Mitsubishi, supplier of the big keyless offset presses sold to The Washington Post, would comment.

Ahead, Goss faces challenges in winning profitable contracts, restoring confidence in its keyless offset inker, and continuing development of its digital offset press after the loss of its work-flow software partner.

Creator of the hugely successful XPress software for page/ad design and publication pagination, Quark turned over responsibility for its widely installed Quark Publishing System to a separately managed subsidiary last winter. Three months later, the unit was effectively dissolved and Quark's new chief operating officer was on his way out.

With desktop heavyweight Adobe Systems in the final stretch of developing its own rivals to XPress and QPS, Quark failed in a hostile takeover of its competitor. Adobe's new InDesign appealed to prospective users and integrators alike. Many of the latter quickly adopted the versatile challenger to supplement, or replace, XPress as their publishing systems' pagination engine. At the first to so do, Digital Technology International, CEO Don Oldham remarked, "we're betting the future of our company" on InDesign, which he praised for aiding computer-automated pagination and PDF work flows, and for offering superior typographic and graphical capabilities and on-screen PostScript.

Adobe later released its InCopy text editor, giving integrators the component needed to build systems to compete with QPS and systems relying on XPress. At this point, Quark licensed an independent company to assume all QPS development and marketing.

While it benefits from ongoing development and acquisition and has an enormous head start of huge customer bases for XPress and QPS, to battle the estimable creator of PostScript, PDF, and Photoshop, Quark also must stick to the job for which it hired former chief operating officer Chuck Bland: wooing back its alienated customers - both those designing with XPress and others struggling with non-QPS systems in which text editors don't share XPress composition.

Makers of publishing systems and presses are in similar positions in North America: many vendors chasing a slowly shrinking market that has reached a certain technical maturity (a large percentage of newspapers now paginate, and virtually all are off letterpress). Hereafter for vendors, prepress and press upgrades and expansions may be as important as new installations.

From four countries, seven makers of double-wide presses now sell to already offset (and a few flexo) papers. Besides those established in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, publishing systems vendors with North American customers now hail from Italy, Denmark, Germany, Britain, Sweden, and Australia.

Y2K concerns were good to most system suppliers last year. Hereafter, they'll likely look to automate existing pagination capabilities and support multimedia publishing. …

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