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Adobe bends to might of US printers

Watch out Teamsters

Adobe Systems has scrapped the "send to FedEx Kinkos" print button in iAdobe Reader and Acrobat Professional, in the face of overwhelming opposition from America's printing companies.

Adobe said today it would release an update to its software in 10 weeks that will remove the ability to send PDFs to FedEx Kinkos for printing at the touch of a button.

John Loiacono, the senior vice president of Adobe's creative solutions business unit, explained the delay, saying Adobe couldn't rollback the offending 8.1 release because it introduced critical security and quality updates.

Loiacono blogged that Adobe had "made a commitment to the print industry to address the concerns they raised... we made a commitment to all out customers to deliver the best, most secure product possible. We plan to deliver on both those commitments, and it takes time."

No doubt the idea of linking to a service that's often the only choice presented to consumers in the track towns of Silicon Valley made eminent sense to Adobe, itself based in San Jose, California. But the company quickly incurred the wrath of printers outside the Valley for including a button to their biggest competitor, in software used widely by the design and print industry.

The National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) and its sister organization, The National Association of Quick Printers (NAQP), wrote to Adobe chief executive Bruce Chizen, outlining their concerns over the FedEx Kinkos button. Their letter was backed by more than 7,000 printing and graphics companies, including quick printing franchises like Speedy and The Allegra Network.

Comments on Loiacono's blog summed up printers' anger. Michael Kahny of Kahny Printing, Cincinnati, Ohio, wrote: "Count Kahny Printing as another business Adobe has lost until the Kinko's link is removed. Don't muddy the waters with talk of added features or future partnerships. You have a simple singular 'next step' ... remove the link!"

Another commentator added: "For you guys and gals not to see the possible backlash from everyone except Kinko's means that either there are a lot of heads in the sand at San Jose or - to be fair - you are so rushed off your feet (probably with pointless meetings and conference calls) that you sometimes can't see the wood for the trees."

For other professionals, it was a jaw-dropping decision to team up with such a frustrating service. "I am not a printer but a designer and the service at Kinkos is just so horrible I can't image that anyone from Adobe would have opted to do this if they had walked into a store to get something printed," one Jack Stark said.

"Case in point: I go with my CS2 files on a CD (burned on a Mac). They can't open the Mac-made CD. Go back to the office copy them to a jump drive and go back. They can't open the file. Takes them 30 minutes to figure out they only have CS not CS2. Bet they still haven't upgraded, let alone use CS3. They can't open the PDF we have on the jump drive either to print from that. Took it to my regular printer and it all worked fine."®

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