1. How was Postscript established as a de facto standard? John Warnock and Charles Geschke founded Adobe Systems Inc. in 1982. Its first product is PostScript. It has three parts:(1) a page description language, (2) an interpreter and (3) fonts. Adobe make the PostScript language open to anyone for free, and the language was meticulously documented in “The red book”, and strong technical support was provided to third-party developers working with the language. As a result, the number of applications supporting PostScript increased dramatically, from 180 in 1986 to over 5000 by 1991.
Adobe licensed PostScript interpreter technology to printer and imagesetter manufacturers on a royalty basis. And to accelerate the diffusion of PostScript output devices, Adobe let printer manufacturers interested in licensing PostScript had free access to its design which is a boilerplate controller based on the Motorola 68000 chip. Therefore the development time for PostScript products is accelerated. What’s more, Adobe engineers often worked on joint product development teams with customers in order to help with the design of customized PostScript interpreters.
This lead to the increase in the number of PostScript from just one–Apple in 1985 to 60 in 1994. PostScript provided a way for describing high-quality professional fonts in a standard format. Instead of being used for a font on the specific output device for which it was designed, PostScript font could be used on any PostScript output device. And PostScript also significantly increased the ability to manipulate fonts, allowing for scaling and rotating. And Adobe invested a large amount in creating its own library of PostScript fonts, making the number of PostScript fonts in the Adobe collection increased from 35 in 1985 to 2000 in 1994. . How did Adobe make money from Postscript, despite its being an “open” standard? Adobe did this mainly through two ways: ownership and leveraging. The PostScript products were firstly introduced in 1985 through a strategic alliance among Adobe, Apple, Aldus and Linotype. Firstly, Aldus PageMaker software enabled the creation of documents that integrated text and graphics, while PageMaker required a PostScript device for printing. Secondly, the allele LaserWriter was the first PostScript printer and incorporated a PostScript interpreter licensed from Adobe, as I mentioned in answer to question 1.
Finally, Linotype licensed a set of its most popular fonts to Adobe so that Adobe could offer them in PostScript format, and it also introduced a high-end PostScript imagesetter so PageMaker documents could be used in professional publishing. As a result, by 1989 PostScript had owned almost 100%of high-end imagesetters on the market it incorporated. Adobe introduced Adobe Illustrator in March 1987 and gained wide acceptance among graphic artists, which helped to create demand for PostScript printers by creasing PostScript output.
Adobe also acquired a number of software products inkling Photoshop and Aldus PageMaker, which are very successful, with Photoshop capturing more than 90% of the market for photo-editing software. Through ownership and leveraging of the PostScript standard, Adobe’s revenue had grown from $2. 2 million in 1984 to $762 million in 1995. And Adobe’s share price also increased at an average annual rate of 29% between when the firm went public in 1995. 3. Which firm is currently in a stronger position to control de facto standards in the eBook space: Adobe or Microsoft?
Adobe had an early lead over Microsoft both in content available in PDF format and readers capable of displaying or printing PDF content. but Microsoft is moving aggressively into the eBook space. The cast looked into six factors to illustrate its point. Firstly, content with publishers. Publisher wanted a single open eBook standard, but being afraid of left behind, they mostly jumped into the eBook market without a common standard. Both Adobe and Microsoft were pursuing relationships with publishers, with the hope of preempting alternative formats.
For example Lightning Source announced an agreement with Adobe to publish content in PDF format in May 2000; Simon ; Schuster agreed to make title available in both PDF and Microsoft Reader format. But Microsoft made some exclusive deals which included the exclusive rights from Random House to publish a novel Timeline as an eBook in Microsoft Reader format, and the exclusive deals with Simon ; Schuster for a series of Star War books for a limited time.
Adobe, on the other hand, had strong historical relationships with publishers and it used it as an advantage over Microsoft. An estimated 70% of publishers’ digital archives of print titles were already saved in PDF format. And Adobe also launched Adobe InDesign which captured about 30% of shipments since introduction. For this area, Adobe has a stronger position. Secondly, content with online bookstores. Online bookstores had different approaches to format standard. For example, BN. com had an agreement with Microsoft to establish Microsoft branded part f the BN. com eBook store; in Jan 2000 and it had a similar agreement with Adobe in August 2000. Amazon had extracted an sum from Microsoft in August 2000 to give the Microsoft Reader format a dominant position in Amazon’s eBook store, while Adobe had no ongoing formal relationship with Amazon. The majority of smaller online eBook stores offered content in PDF format, making the Adobe in a strong position with smaller online eBook store market. For this area, Microsoft has a stronger position. Thirdly, desktop readers.
The Acrobat Reader was by far the most dominant desktop reader with almost 200 million copies downloaded. Microsoft had made an eBook reader available as a free download for Windows users in August 2000, but their downloads had been few. In addition, with the Microsoft Reader one can’t print files, while with Adobe Acrobat files and documents could be printed out. A survey had shown that 80%of respondents would prefer to print a book out rather than download it to a handheld device, making Adobe more likely in a advantageous position.
For this area, Adobe has a stronger position. Fourthly, PDAs. Both Adobe and Microsoft had its own influence on PDAs. Acrobat Readers for both Palm and Windows CE platforms had been demonstrated at conference, and third parties such as BCL computers had developed PDF readers for the Palm Pilot. In April 2000 Microsoft eBook Reader was shipped with the Pocket PC operating system, so all Pocket PC devices had immediate access to content in Microsoft Reader format. In this area, they are equally important.
Fifthly, digital rights management. As the PDF Merchant product had already been used by Amazon and Websites, Adobe further announced its intentions to provide digital content server products with the acquisition of Glassbook, gaining access to leading edge digital rights management software called EBX. Adobe announced a relationship between Price Waterhouse Coopers and InterTrust to develop digital rights solutions around PDF and Acrobat. Microsoft announced a DAS platform and tested it with Barnes & Noble and Lightning Source.
But the initial version of Microsoft Reader has shipped without encryption software. In this area, Adobe has a stronger position. Last, creating “buzz”. In this area, Microsoft had achieved more than Adobe. Microsoft gained a lot of publicity about its eBook initiatives by its VP of Technology, Dick Brass. He was a powerful person known for his outspokenness, therefore his promotion of Microsoft had drawn much attention from the public. Adobe was pressured in face of Microsoft’s activities.
For this area, certainly Microsoft has a stronger position. In sum, Adobe had the overall advantage in the primary factors for eBooks. Moreover, Adobe dominated in the most important factors for the eBook market: publishing firms already had PDF and liked it; it had the ability to print hardcopies from Desktop readers. What’s more, customers also cared about document integrity, which PDF Reader provided because it could not be edited. 4. What should Adobe do? How can they win the standards war? Should they focus on the eDocs or eBooks?
I think Adobe should continue to expand its market in eDocs and compete for eBook market share. But instead of a direct competition against Microsoft, Adobe should entice Microsoft inward while maneuvering to the more easily profitable sectors. This means that Adobe should let Microsoft pursue dominance in the individual leisure-reading segment. It should not spend very much money trying to grow market share against Microsoft in the fiction and leisure eBooks segment, because from Exhibit 7 we can see the consumer market for fiction got the least value from eBooks.
Meanwhile Adobe needs to leverage the strengths of its current relationships, reputation, and PDF penetration. That is to say that Adobe should push hard on the corporate, professional, and technical users. From Exhibit 7 we can see these segments care very much about capabilities that Adobe already provides: key word search, customizable content, and scarcity . Exhibit 5 shows these professional and technical users already make up 72. 7% of Adobes revenues. It also shows Adobe can grow in the corporate segment that accounts for only 16. % of revenues, and could use PDF to publish manuals. Adobe already services the corporate eDoc market with Business Tools, which enables electronic signatures, editing and other actions. Adobe should also target new customers in the reference manual and business and professional segments because they value the same capabilities as Adobe’s current customers. Since the sales of these segments combined are larger than that of traditional leisure book segment ($59billion vs. $30. billion, exhibit 14), Adobe would have more potential revenue to target, while Microsoft aims at the smaller and unproven segment. 5. Will the eBooks market tip or will there be multiple standards? How can Adobe make money in this market? I think there will be multiple standards because both Adobe and Microsoft will thrive to make the highest profit it can get, and there will also be others competing in the future. Many other firms provide the services and products necessary to make PDF the dominant eBook reader. These assets include PDAs, PCs, digital printers, and Websites.
While these assets benefit both competitors, Adobe is better situated since its PDF can actually take advantage of digital printers, and Barnes and Noble was considering in store on-demand printing to customers. Adobe’s products support every link in the value chain, and from Exhibition 8 we can see Adobe has the only product that supports the eBook printing portion. Although Adobe should not focus on the traditional hardcover segment, Adobe should focus on earning a share of the retailers’ and publishers’ piece of the value chain revenue distribution, which combined is 60%, as Exhibition 9 shows.
Adobe can take advantage of retailers plan of rolling out “on-demand” printing in their stores and on-line downloads over the Web. Since PDF is an effective application, retailers can easily integrate PDF into their store and on-line systems, and the majority of Web reading consumers has already downloaded PDF. PDF is the proven to be best solution for print jobs while Microsoft Reader can’t even print, and publishers (70% of them) already use PDF to digitally warehouse their books. Plus, the publishers that use PostScript are attracted to using the more robust PDF.