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Adobe aims to take pain out of print jobs

The company's new software uses the Internet to save people the hassle of bringing their PowerPoint presentations, brochures and other files on a diskette to the print shop.

    Adobe Systems will announce new software Tuesday that will allow people to send print jobs to printing shops via the Internet.

    The new software will allow people to turn their documents into PDF (portable document format) files, a popular format Adobe created for distributing documents over the Internet.

    The software--called Adobe PDF Transit--will save people the hassle of bringing their PowerPoint presentations, brochures and other files on a diskette to the print shop, said George Cacioppo, vice president of Adobe's Internet Printing Group.

    The new product by publishing software maker Adobe solves the age-old problem of customers and print shop owners using different versions of word processing, presentation or graphics software, Cacioppo said. Print shop owners sometimes open files to discover the documents' sizes, fonts or colors aren't exactly how the customer wants it.

    But because files are saved in PDF format with Adobe's new software, analysts say, it will ensure that documents come out the way people wanted them when the printer opens the file.

    "There's not a lot of profit in small-volume printing," said Ron Tussy, president and analyst for Imerge Consulting Group in Belmont, Calif. "If they spend a lot of time going back and forth with customers and dink around with the file to get the fonts and everything in order, they waste a lot of time."

    Analysts say Adobe's new product also should help the company in its quest to make PDFs an even more popular technology to send documents via the Internet. Jim Hamilton, associate director for CAP Ventures, a consulting and market research firm, said Adobe doesn't have much competition with its new product, except for a few small companies.

    "If you're talking about communications between the buyer and the printing service provider, this will take away what was a jumpy, herky-jerky process and create a bridge between the two," he said.

    Adobe's Cacioppo said the new software, available in November, will allow customers to select printing and billing options via the Web and to choose a print shop anywhere in the world to have the job done. That way, if an executive is in Los Angeles and has a meeting in New York, the executive can have the printing done in New York instead of Los Angeles. The executive doesn't have to lug the documents cross-country; he just has to pick up the print job in New York, Cacioppo said.

    Adobe is targeting both print stores and large corporations that have their own internal printing shop. So far, printing chain AlphaGraphics, Ikon Office Solutions and printer maker Nexpress have signed on to use the Adobe product. Adobe will charge print shops for using Adobe PDF Transit but expects the shops to give free software to customers to use the service, Cacioppo said.