Sunday, July 04, 2010

Adobe PDF and InDesign Face New Competition

Why would anyone want to challenge Adobe and its now open PDF format? Adobe have developed the format without any real challenger and today printers, typesetters, digital companies and virtually every publisher deals with PDF.

Enter Founder Apabi Technology a Chinese e-book player from Beijing who have an established name in the Chinese e-book market and are used by some 500 Chinese publishers, provide digital platforms, libraries and e-book readers. They have developed their CEBX (Common E-document Blending XML) technology which is capable of storing document data and which is fully compatible with PDF. Apabi Reader is their equivalent to Adobe’s Reader enabling documents to be viewed but not edited. Apabi Maker can convert other document formats to CEBX. Apabi Carbon is the full CEBX editing suite. The company also claim that it has applications under development for Windows Mobile, Android, and iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad).

So is it a replacement technology or a complimentary one? So what is their strength?
Founder Apabi plans to focus in the business-to-business market, with a specific focus on academic and professional content and have announced a strategic agreement with China's Science Press, which will make products in more than 18 different subject categories and plans to launch more than 8,000 e-books in five major disciplines. They claim that the CEBX format has been specifically designed to integrate with all kinds of smartphones, handheld e-book readers, and tablet computers

They believe the adoption by Chinese government departments to meet their document-processing needs and the productitivty they claim CEBX has over PDF on mobiles will be key areas to make CEBX a dominant force and Apabi tools a must have.
So it was also interesting to read about Quarks latest comeback and realise that Adobe may not have a clear run for long. Over a decade ago many book designers used Quark and it was dominant force in the market. However in that same period the likes of Adobe have made great inroads into the market and now their ‘InDesign’ holds the premium spot.

Quark, K-NFB Reading Technology, the creator of the Blio e-reader application, and Baker & Taylor, the US book distributor, have announced a partnership to offer content creators the ‘first complete solution for Digital Publishing 2.0’. The partnership aims to combine their complimentary expertise to help publishers and other content creators capitalize in the emerging digital market. Their joint offer aims to include video, audio, interactive Web pages, social media, note-taking, exporting capabilities, and more. They say it will transform static, black-and-white pages into rich, engaging digital media content.

There are obvious questions about the commitment of all three to stick it out and try to change a well defined market, their ability to get wide adoption of the Blio format and whether it can displace the current incumbent InDesign.
What is clear from both the Chinese intiative and the Quark one as well as Steve Job’s Flash denial is that Adobe isn’t going to have it as easy as they did in the last decade.

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