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?