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Quark Deals for Designers of Tomorrow, While Price-Gouging Designers of Today

Quark inks deal with Scholastic to pursue Australia’s designers of the future, but price-gouged designers of today–and tomorrow–prefer InDesign.

Today Scholasitc Australia, a fully owned subsidiary of New York-based children’s publishing and media company Scholastic Inc, announced that it has reached an agreement with Denver, Colo.-based Quark, Inc. Scholastic’s Media & Technology division will distribute the complete range of QuarkXPress retail, education, and volume license products for both Mac and Windows through national Australian reseller channels serving the professional, retail, and education markets.

Designers of the Future

Scholastic will assist Quark in developing and deploying marketing communications and customer programs, coordination of training and seminars, and development of school and tertiary educations channels for Quark’s products. The deal also has Scholastic providing licensing support through customer services and account management contact with resellers nationally. Advertising and promotional support will be provided through the company’s MDF program.

Scholastic’s Media & Technology Division specialises in value-added software distribution and marketing services covering design, animation , web- publishing, and Speech software products from market leaders Autodesk, Autodesk media & entertainment, Macromedia, WACOM , Scansoft, and Curious Labs. The company is based on the New South Wales Central Coast, with a national distribution network covering over 1000 retail stores, resellers, and educational specialists.

“Scholastic’s strength in the Australian education channel is extremely important to Quark,” said Gyan Prakash, vice president of sales for the Asia, Middle East, and Africa regions of Quark. “Getting QuarkXPress into classrooms throughout Australia, with the help of Scholastic, means that QuarkXPress will be widely used and will also give Quark insight into what the designers of the future want and need in their tools.”

Designers of Today & Tomorrow

While Quark pursues Australia’s designers of future generations, the current and next generation of Australia’s designers are already abandoning an over-priced XPress for the greater freedom and flexibility of InDesign.

Print 21, a news site devoted to the printing industry in Australia and New Zealand, recently asked its readers which they prefer, QuarkXPress or InDesign. Wednesday, Print 21 published a selection of responses.

John Lander, managing director for Print Creations Bendigo writes:

This year we bit the bullet and switched from Quark to InDesign along with OSX. …My staff…were all extremely pro Quark and adverse to change. We are now six months on and all six staff say they would hate to go back to Quark as it is a vastly inferior product.

From a personal point of view it was a pleasure to leave Quark and their arrogance behind.

Sarah Jones, a design & prepress teacher at RMIT’s International Centre of Graphic Technology says:

Almost every full-time student prefers InDesign over Quark, it is a much more comfortable format for them, and this seems to be the only reason why. These students will go out of their way not to use Quark, it is not practical to them. …Currently, it seems difficult for them to get jobs as most of them are unable to use Quark to industry standard. Yet, the majority of apprentices prefer Quark (as they use it in the workplace)

As most people heading into our area are not from apprenticeship backgrounds, I can see that eventually InDesign will win over.

From Kym Flannery, advertising & design recruitment consultant, Asphar & Associates:

In my new career in Recruitment for the Advertising, Design and Print Industry I have found most, 65% plus, of our clients are requesting InDesign experience as a standard skill set. I know of at least one training company that has started cancelling Quark courses, while their InDesign courses are booked back to back…All in all I think unless the Quark company quickly makes a major culture shift, they will lose this race. The only real issues with InDesign are more ‘pilot error’ issues than true faults with this package. We live in interesting times.

Will the Scholastic deal, clearly a wise and foward-looking strategy for Quark, be enough to ensure QuarkXPress use among future generations of Aussie designers?

Costs of Designing Business

Even as U.S. XPress users hail the free technical support, improved customer service, and competitive pricing enacted by former Quark, Inc. CEO Kamar Aulakh during the past 18 months, outside the U.S., the rest of the world is still waiting on hold.

In the United States, QuarkXPress 6.5 retails for US$995 (currently on promotional pricing of $699). With today’s conversion rates, QuarkXPress 6.5 costs Australians exactly three times what Americans pay–1769 or US$2,112.

To put those prices in context, we checked some other mission-critical applications most creative professionals buy.

  • Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium Edition (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, Acrobat 7 Professional, Version Cue, and the Adobe Bridge)
    Retail in United States: US$1,199
    Retail in Australia: 1370 (US$1635)
  • Microsoft Office for Mac 2004 Standard Edition (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage)
    Retail in United States: US$399
    Retail in Australia: 402 (US$480)
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004
    Retail in United States: US$399
    Retail in Australia: 363 (US$433)
  • Corel Painter IX
    Retail in United States: US$429
    Retail in Australia: 402 (US$480)

Although software prices for Australia are somewhat higher than in the United States, all are less than a 50% increase. But, at triple the price, QuarkXPress 6.5 has a greater than 200% markup.

The retail price differences are often attributed to the requirement for Australian software to be written in, and support dictionary-based text fuctions such as spelling and hyphenation adhering to, International English or UK English instead of US English. That requirement affects desktop applications to varying degrees–from the simple need of alternate ASCII dictionary files, to significant changes in the codebase. However, before writing off language differences as justification for price gouging, it’s important to recognize that all of the above software has the same requirement–even Adobe’s Creative Suite 2 Premium Edition, whose InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, GoLive, and Acrobat all have spell-checkers and perform other language-based text handling.

From the vantage point of Quark’s world headquarters in Denver, Colorado, it looks like the people aren’t the only thing upside-down in Australia.

Is Quark really wooing Australian creatives, or should we use another verb that rhymes with wooing?

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16 Responses

  1. Samuel says:

    I went through the above article, well the feeling that I got is that Pariah, Jeff and Samuel you all are doing the Bill Troop act for Adobe. Well you all went up and criticized his pro Quark instance, I don’t know what should I say for you all. Well I have got Xpress v7 pre-release and I am doing analysis, soon I will come up with fair (and I mean it) comparision between IndesignCS and V7. I request you all to see the other side of the coin too.

  2. Jeff says:

    Pariah called Quark 7 “unsexy, but strong” in a headline previewing Quark 7. That’s not an anti-Quark remark. You obviously have a hard time hearing negative press about Quark, but that doesn’t give you the right to question anyone’s objectivity (especially those of us who haven’t posted very often). It’s insulting – at least to me – to be compared to a hack like Bill Troop.

    The fact of the matter here is that, whether you like it or not, Pariah raises two valid points (one in favor of Quark and one not). Quark has been financially gouging users who need to work in multiple languages (meaning the majority of the rest of the world) with XPress Passport for years, typical of their arrogance. It was, however, a wise move to get into the education market. I’ve only been out of school for a year. The majority of my classmates prefer InDesign because we don’t have the years invested in Quark that our more experienced counterparts have. Both companies I interned with and my current employer switched to InDesign (based in part on discussions I was a part of because I had extensive experience with the program), and none of the 3 have so much as peeked over their shoulder since. Quark is wise to go after new users. Whether or not it will be enough to help them remains to be seen.

    If you’re going to compare InDesign to Quark, the only relevant comparison is with InDesign CS2 (30-day, FULLY FUNCTIONAL trial download now available). InDesign CS is irrelevant legacy software. Bill Troop’s biggest mistake was to compare Quark 7 (software with no concrete release date) with an unnamed but OBVIOUSLY legacy version of InDesign (he touted features that were available in CS2 as exclusive to Quark) – irrelevant, considering CS2 had been announced over a month prior. Don’t make the same mistake he did.

    Analyze to your heart’s content, but InDesign CS is irrelevant. I have CS2, and it just paid for itself hand-over-fist with a very massive project I had to do over the holiday weekend. Even my slightly skeptical Creative Director said we would never have gotten a document as impressive in the time we had out of Quark.

    Can you release any details about this prerelease you have? I’d be very surprised if you didn’t have to sign an NDA as part of the testing process. If you expect anyone other than Quark fundamentalists to take you seriously, you’re going to have to provide something more than a “trust me, I’ve seen it and it’s great” or rehash of already-announced features. You’re also going to have to compare it to InDesign’s current release. I don’t see how you’re analysis is relevant otherwise.

    If you like Quark better, just say so. You certainly don’t have to justify your decision to me or anyone else. I’m just discussing this for the sake of discussion. And for everyone’s sake, let Bill Troop go. Nothing he’s said will ever win you any points.

  3. I’ve wanted to follow up to this, but really, Jeff said it better than even I could.

    Jeff, you “get” what we’re trying to do here. Samuel, to be blunt, you don’t.

    Still, I’d welcome some informed commentary and information on what XPress 7 can and will do for the layout artist. I’m eager to see whatever you have, and await whatever it is you have to say about V7 with great interest.

  4. Samuel says:

    Well guys, I worked really hard to see what v7 has in offer for us, I can’t disclose the actual feature set of v7 because I am bound not to do that. Well I compared features of both, and assigned certain marks to both the softwares, this was really a very exhaustive comparision. In the end out of total 120 marks, InCs got 63 and V7 got 96. InCS lagged behind since it has some features missing which V7 has in offering. For me holding the breath has wroked well, and I think v7 will make many users happy. Well I am dieing to disclose some of its killing features,but I am bound. Well For Jeff and Sameul, I can bet that this v7 will make you think. Whatever I have written here, I stand by it.

    I have gone through Jeff’s last comment and will come up with an answer because I couldn’t find time to answer it.If you really beleive in debating merits of a software then I hope you for sure will find more merits that demerits in v7. Well let me tell you that I am not pro Quark and Anti Adobe, infact I also planned to shift to Indesign but V7’s announced feature set really impressed me, thats why I just stopped. And now I can say that this stop was really worth.

  5. I can see you worked very hard to prepare a very earnest analysis of QuarkXPress as compared with InDesign. This is to your credit.

    However, bluntly, it’s not of much use.

    While it’s praiseworthy that you assigned scores to various features and rated them accordingly (I’m willing to cut you the benefit of the doubt that you were as impartial as could be), since you can’t tell us what it was you valued and how you valued them, those numbers are just that…numbers.

    Moreover, since we have no way of knowing what you rated, how you rated it, or why, I have to stipulate that I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt on impartiality.

    Another troubling point is, unless I misread your text or you mistyped, you are still comparing the notional V7 with InDesign CS. As Jeff pointed out, the valid comparison is against CS2, not CS! The reasons for that should be self-evident, but in case they aren’t, here’s two points to consder: CS couldn’t access PSD layers, but CS2 can, thus elminating the advantage QuarkVista gave XPress, and CS is no longer the current version anyway.

    QuarkXPress 7 is, presumably, meant to compete with InDesign CS2…not InDesign CS. You may as well compare XPress 5 to InDesign 1.5….or apples to oranges….

    Unless you are willing to clue us on what it is you rated, there’s no point in it; Statements such as “I hope you will for sure find more merits than demerits in v7” have little meaning if we can’t talk about what it is you see that is meritworthy.

    And to the statement “Well For Jeff and Sameul, I can bet that this v7 will make you think” the only possible answer is “Well, yes, but as you can see above, not what you wanted me to.”

  6. Jeff says:

    I just did a comparison of my own, and by a score of 3,492,176 to 8, I’ve determined Curling shouldn’t be an Olympic sport. Like SJK, I don’t mean to be blunt, but subtlety obviously isn’t getting through to you. For reasons I’ve already outlined, this comparison and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee.

    If you needed to reaffirm your decision to stick with Quark by doing this comparison, then I hope you got out of it what you wanted to, but your “results” are nothing but abstract numbers to the rest of us. Quantifying your experience doesn’t make it any more meaningful. Page layout is a vast industry serving many people. Different workflows will be more efficient with different programs. What you gave a 63 I might give a 163. My workflow is more efficient with InDesign, and I argue that more workflows would be if they gave they gave the program a fair shot.

    In the end, the only number that matters is the number of hours it takes you to do a project (time is money). I save close to a dozen hours a week in a Quark-free workflow (no exaggeration). In order to make waiting for 7 worth it – whenever it does actually come out – it would have to make up for all the time I lost by sticking with Quark 6.5 instead of switching to InDesign CS2 when it came out at the end of April. That’s virtually impossible, considering Quark 7 is already almost 3 months behind and we don’t even have a release date yet.

    There’s no point in discussing Quark 7 without having something concrete to discuss. This doesn’t fit that criteria.

  7. aussi bref says:

    I wonder if Samuel would still stick with Quark Xpress if he had to pay 3 times the price of Indesign as we do in Australia. Quark’s pricing policy has been on the nose here for so long, that, as soon as Indesign 2 came out, designers in this here started switching in droves. We don’t just dislike Quark we loathe the company with a passion!

  8. Samuel says:

    Yes, I agree that the comparisions that I did might appear just abstract numbers as there’s no explanation about it. But let me reassure you that let Quark come out with all features, I will come up with the details of the points given to both the softwares by me and where Quark did score. I will soon come up with the scores that I gave to the features already announced by Quark. I think it will prove my point a bit.

  9. Samuel says:

    Here it goes…….
    Feature Quark IndesignCS3
    JDF 4 0
    Transparency 4(Color Level) 2(Object Level)
    Vista 4 0
    Picture Background 4(Just one click) 2(very inefficient)

  10. Samuel says:

    Its not readable….so doing it again.
    Feature/Quark/IndesignCS3
    JDF /4/0
    Transparency/4(Color Level)/2(Object Level)
    Vista/4/0
    Picture Background/4(Just one click)/2(very inefficient)

  11. I’ve read Jeff’s comments above a couple of times since he posted them, but now it strikes me that I would like to clarify just one little point:
    “Pariah called Quark 7 “unsexy, but strong” in a headline previewing Quark 7.”
    Actually, I called the VDP, JDF, and XML features unsexy but strong, referring to the fact that, while amazingly strong and much needed technologies, they’re not as sexy as transparency or OpenType support, which were the previously divulged features. Because Quark does not give preview betas to periodical writers and editors, I’ve not seen Quark 7 and could not make a judgement on its overall sex appeal or strength.

    By the way, I sincerely thank you, Jeff, for your commentary in this thread. As Samuel J. Klein noted, you get what we do here at Quark VS InDesign.com, and we genuinely appreciate that.

  12. Samuel,

    Your tab-aligned, monospace data isn’t going to work in plain text on the Web. XHTML allows neither tabs nor more than a single contiguous space character to display. I changed it to use virgules (slashes) to separate your features and scores–which is not to say I endorse or even understand what you wrote; I simply made it readable.

    Regardless of that, your numbers are confusing and out of context. Clearly you’ve put in a great deal of effort and have a good grasp of both programs, but without a frame of reference it’s difficult for anyone to put your numbers into pragmatic thought.

    Everyone can talk about XPress 7 in abstracts all he wants, but none of it will make sense until the NDAs lift and the product releases. At which point, of course, Quark VS InDesign.com will provide a thorough, fair, point-for-point comparison between QuarkXPress 7 and InDesign CS2.

    Until everyone can see XPress 7 for himself, claims of XPress 7’s superiority to anything are unprovable and, frankly, boring rhetoric.

  13. Following Samuel:

    Feature Quark IndesignCS3

    It’s CS2, not CS3. In terms of versions, CS2 is InDesign Version 4. CS was InDesign Version 3. Which version are you talking about?
    Samuel, again:

    Vista/4/0

    Which I read as rating the still-notional XPress 7 with a score of 4 for having QuarkVista, and InDesign version (whatever) 0 for not having QuarkVista.

    That is an absurd rating, for a couple of reasons. Not only does the current version of InDesign (CS2 or Version 4) allow access to PSD layers, anyone with the CS2 has Photoshop, which provides layer blending, and Bridge, which makes moving between the two all but seamless. Moreover, even though QuarkVista is, in my opinion, a brilliant XTension and generally well-executed, Quark is the program that needed it. CS1, even without the Bridge, is integrated well enough that moving between InDesign and Photoshop to change PSDs wasn’t too tough

    (Note: in the interests of correction, please not that in one of my replies above I said that QuarkVista’s advantage had been trumped by InDesign CS2 because CS2 allowed access to PSD layers. This is inexcusably incorrect. The XTension that provides PSD access isn’t QuarkVista, but PSD Import.)

  14. Jeff Zimmerman says:

    Feature/ Quark/ IndesignCS3
    JDF /4/0
    Transparency/ 4(Color Level)/ 2(Object Level)
    Vista/4/0
    Picture Background/ 4(Just one click)/ 2(very inefficient)

    Now we have something to talk about (albeit not much).

    JDF – you can check a box in CS2’s PDF export (Advanced pane) to have it automatically open Acrobat’s JDF dialog. I’ve never used it and can’t evaluate its user-friendliness, but it IS there. While this is technically not a part of InDesign, it is consistent among ALL CS2 products, and the process is seamless enough that giving InDesign a “0” isn’t entirely accurate (in my opinion).

    Transparency – does Quark support advanced blending modes (multiply, screen, soft light, etc) like InDesign? While color level opacity sounds like it would be useful, InDesign’s blending modes create beautiful designs and I value those more than I value it being at the color level. Ignoring these is oversimplifying this feature and if you didn’t consider this before, you need to reevaluate this.

    Picture background – I’m not quite sure what you are talking about with this feature. I believe you are talking about coloring a greyscale graphic (llike duotoning) and am responding under that assumption. I can see how seasoned Quark users would think this is cumbersome, but once you learn the key commands, it’s a small price to pay for other InDesign features. Not disputing your score, just saying it’s not something that deserves the same weight as transparency.

    Now, you’ve obviously chosen to evaluate features that were exclusive to Quark (giving InDesign a “0” for those categories). What features did you evaluate that were exclusive to InDesign? Object Styles (from CS2)? Seperations palette (from CS)? Simple pathfinder functions (add, minus back, etc – from ID1 or ID2)? These are just a couple examples of VERY useful features I sorely miss when I’m forced to use Quark. A fair evaluation would have included all of these. Giving us the scores you gave InDesign for these features (even if you can’t divulge Quark’s equivalent score) will give your evaluation more credit. Your list should be more complete than just the three examples I mentioned.

  15. Jeff says:

    Actually, I called the VDP, JDF, and XML features unsexy but strong, referring to the fact that, while amazingly strong and much needed technologies, they’re not as sexy as transparency or OpenType support, which were the previously divulged features.

    Sorry to have misquoted you. I just remembered the headline (as the post had been a couple weeks old, I believe). At any rate, the main point of my original post was to say that you were willing to give Quark credit when credit is due (which hadn’t been very often in the past).

  16. Mike says:

    Yes here are my ratings of quark 10 and indesign 6.123

    The overall bpd23 I give 0
    the red to orange ratio in quark is 5
    but indesign is 200
    the picture box I give a 100 to quark
    and a 70 to indesign.
    This is how relevent this whole topic is. And Im sorry to hear your bound samuel, there are some laxitives that can help that.
    INDESIGN RULZ!

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