“Adobe Systems helped to build the modern printing industry and now, it appears, they are hellbent on destroying it—not by willful action, but by neglect.” (Frank Romano) "We are not turning our back on printers; we continue to be committed to the print segment and it is really important that people don’t think Adobe doesn’t care about the industry. We do.” (Lynly Schambers-Lenox, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Print Service Provider Program at Adobe) Do you think that your small printing business could be hurt, directly or indirectly, by Adobe Systems Inc.’s decision to retire the Adobe Partner Connection Print Service Provider Program? In case you’re not familiar with this development and its implications for users of Adobe graphic software, WhatTheyThink has been all over the story since the news broke earlier this month. Senior editor Cary Sherburne made it the subject of a heavily commented thread at PrintCEO and followed this up with a comprehensive analysis of Adobe’s move in WhatTheyThink’s news section last week. Frank Romano has weighed in with a no-holds-barred opinion piece of his own, and a lively discussion of the situation is in progress over at PrintPlanet. There’s much to talk about. For many years, paid subscribers to the Partner Program could count on continuous software updates and other forms of assistance that let them optimize their use of Creative Suite and related Adobe products. By providing responsive technical support, the program also reinforced Adobe’s ties to the industry that it revolutionized—a favor that the industry returned by steadfastly purchasing Adobe products and serving as the bedrock of the $19 billion operation that Adobe Systems is today. The connection will be reset on February 4, 2010 as Adobe, citing declining participation in the Partner Program, attempts to replace it with another, as-yet-undefined support scheme for Adobe users. The company says that this plan, which seems to involve obtaining support through the regional affiliates of Printing Industries of America, will make former subscribers “happy” even though direct liaison with the source will be lost. WhatTheyThink has reported that Quark Inc., which lost its long-held primacy in desktop publishing after Adobe launched Creative Suite in 2003, hopes to lure unhappy Adobe customers with offers of free copies of QuarkXPress 8 and free enrollment in its own output provider programs. It remains to be seen how printers, who could no more function without Adobe technology than they could without paper or ink, will be affected by the company’s apparent decision to distance itself from their day-to-day operations. The fear, as always, is that the impact will be in inverse proportion to company size. “The people hurt the most are the small quick printers who don’t have the resources or see the need to be a member of Printing Industries of America,” observes Scott Cappel, president of Sorrento Mesa Printing in San Diego, CA, in a quote from Cary’s analysis. Personally, it makes us sad to see any change that even appears to reduce Adobe’s historic identification with graphic communications. Adobe founders John Warnock and Charles Geschke are printing’s Edison and Marconi. With PostScript, they turned the graphic arts into something that made sense to do with computers. Think of how the PostScript Type 1 font format transformed typography. Try to imagine multimedia publishing or electronic document management as they exist today without the emergence of PDF—it can’t be done. If you have something to say about Adobe’s new stance on its relationship with printing, you can be sure that many ears are listening. Please post your comments here, at PrintCEO, or at PrintPlanet—or at all three. CLARIFICATION: The $19 billion figure cited above refers to an estimate of Adobe's market capitalization, not its actual revenue. Adobe has reported that it achieved revenue of $2.946 billion in fiscal year 2009.