Exclusive interview of Gavin Drake, vice-president of marketing at #Quark, about their #webtoprint strategy

 I've been using Quark Xpress since middle of the 90's. I've been really impressed by the deep revolution Quark company conducted during the past 5 years. First of all, manage to improve the desktop product and cut its price. Then, start a new range of entreprise solutions, with QPS and Web-To-Print System after Gluon's acquisition. And now, Quark's strategy moves to the cloud, with the brand new Quark Brand Manager, and also Quark Promote version 2. As incredible as it seems, I've invited by twitter Gavin Drake, vice-president of Marketing at Quark, for a virtual interview. And he gently accepted my invitation ! So I'm very pleased and honored to discuss with him about the new strategy of his company.

Ludovic : Quark Promote has been launched for quite 2 years : what is your feedback about it ? Does Promote match initial objectives ? On a general matter, are you confident in such multi-purpose web-to-print B2C services ? or do you think that w2p services have to be more specialized in the future ? 
Gavin : QuarkPromote.com has evolved substantially since its launched and has a large number of very satisfied small business customers that continue to come back again and again to create their marketing materials. We most recently added support for Mac OS X customers to use it too. This was Quark’s first true cloud offering and a great opportunity for us to refine our technology and approach. Our strategy however was always to expand our cloud-based offerings to large enterprises and so we’re really excited to be able to do that now with Quark Brand Manager. 

Adobe will soon open its Creative Cloud. Do Quark plan to provide such a SaaS solution for QuarkXPress 10 ?
Gavin : Unfortunately I can’t talk to future product releases but there are clearly a number of trends in the software industry and an important one of those is SaaS. 

Quark Brand Manager is the world's first brand management solution available in SaaS mode. For instance, BM only allows to output print material. Is it planned to enable customers to manage e-mailings, HTML files, ePubs or tablet outputs from BM in the coming months ? I've the feeling that customers are waiting for multichannel publishing in their brand management requirements. 
Gavin : Right now we know that a substantial proportion of marketing budgets are still directed towards print and print is becoming a premium communication tool. This is especially the case in larger global enterprises. So there are immediate challenges that we can address in the financial services and manufacturing industries for example, where they need to enable their distributed sales and marketing teams and branch offices with customized print material. Of course we also plan to address additional media and you’ll know from Quark’s other software solutions that we already have technology addressing iPad publishing, ePUB, interactive media and more.

Concerning technology, Quark has decided to make the choice of Microsoft : Silverlight for Quark Promote, and Windows Azure for Brand Manager. Can you tell us more about the reasons that guided you with these technologies ?
Gavin : Quark is fortunate to have many strong partnerships with IBM, Apple and of course Microsoft. They have been leading the way in developing a global cloud infrastructure in Microsoft Azure. In that respect it was a natural fit to provide a global, always-on, infrastructure that is going to scale with our business and provide our customers with a considerably more cost effective solution than the alternative non-cloud brand management systems. 

One year after Adobe decided to stop its Partner Connection Print Service Provider program, I've the feeling that Quark want to push its Quark Alliance partners behind the scene, via Quark Promote and Quark BM offerings. Is it a way for you to "winback" the market of print suppliers, in a period where many print factories are looking for web-to-print solutions ?
Gavin : Our print partners have and will continue to be an important part of our partner network. The Quark Print Network is a win-win for printers and customers alike. Our printers get new business that they wouldn’t have otherwise seen and our Quark Brand Manager customers can optionally to use Quark’s Print Network to enable local, cost-effective printing for their sales and marketing materials. 

Regarding the DTP market, what is the position of Quark Xpress vs .Indesign ? Do you feel you're winning new market shares thanks to your aggressive pricing policy, product improvements and new capabilities (Quark App Studio) ?
Gavin : Digital Publishing including iPad App creation and eBook creation is certainly breathing new life into the page layout market in general and we benefit from that. We’re even seeing InDesign users choose App Studio and QuarkXPress over the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite because it’s easy for designers to create great looking iPad app experiences in QuarkXPress 9 - plus our pricing model is extremely attractive and minimizes the ongoing costs that are evident elsewhere. 

Regarding the evolution of the publishing market, do you think there's a future for desktop publishing ? Or will the near-future be focused on multichannel publishing via cloud-based platforms ?
Gavin : Just think that 2 years ago there was no iPad and no real tablet market to speak of. It just goes to show how quickly innovation can change how we think about publishing. Also remember that publishing isn’t just publishers and printers. The largest publishers in the world are not publishers, they’re financial services companies, governments and manufacturers. To solve the publishing challenges that these types of organizations face requires a completely different approach to publishing. Dynamic publishing, which is a market that Quark is taking a leadership position in, is about creating structured content and then automating the publishing of that content to multiple channels. In this way organizations can future-proof their publishing so whatever the next publishing channel might be, they have a sustainable publishing approach. Whether that’s on premise software or cloud-based platforms, Quark will be there to ensure our customers succeed.

Thank you so much Gavin for giving me such an opportunity, for your availability and your gentleness. I wish to have the opportunity again to discuss with you about Quark strategy in the future.

Follow Gavin Drake on Twitter :  https://twitter.com/#!/gavinedrake