Adobe bundled bigtime with its launch of its graphics programs lead by Photoshop CS3 and Illustrator CS3 plus the whole Macromedia line of products. The new products were spread over 6 Creative Product Suites emphasizing Design, Web/Mobile development, two flavors of Graphics, highend video and finally a grand Master Collection. And the pricing was certainly attractive particularly for users upgrading from point products like say Dreamweaver or Illustrator – the move to a suite brought 2-3 related products for the full new price of one.
And Adobes operating income results to August end (note before the big back to schools software sales of September were recorded) showed 40% growth over the previous quarter and an advance of nearly 80% to the February end quarter. So Adobe did well by its Suite and bundling strategy. However, I think that Adobe may have hit the Suite nail on the head with its new Technical Communication Suite and here is why.
Adobe has leading individual products in the technical documentation product field:
1)Robohelp 6 see our recent review here – has long pioneered and continues to offer top notch features. However serious competition has come from MadCap (.NET integrated tech documentation) and Quadralay (cross platform system with strong templating and scripting capabilities);
2) Captivate 2 see our review here – has also pioneered in bring video and Flash to demo software; but Adobes own Premiere Elements and Techsmiths Camtasia 4 offer legitimate competition;
3)RoboScreen Capture see our capsule review about halfway down here – offers a full screen capture utility very close in capability to the industry standards, Techsmith Snagit;
4)Framemaker 8 – provides real long document/book design capabilities; but was strangely not well tied into Robohelp 6;
5)Robohelp Source Control Server – provide Adobe basic checkin/checkout and versioning services.
But the market is a)fast emerging and b)subject to fragmentation as we have just alluded to the many potential “best of breed” candidates. Finally, the market is also hitting pricing speed bumps as so many rival products and packages emerge. But Adobe is best positioned to put together a cross platform solution at a Suite price. And that is exactly what they have done with the Technical Communication Suite: consisting of Framemaker 8, Robohelp 7, Captivate 3, RoboScreen Capture and Adobe Acrobat 3D Suite for $1599 or upgrade for $999 from any of the Framemaker, Captivate, or Robohelp/RoboInfo product lines. Again, this upgrade at the price of anyone of the principle components that is very compelling. I shall try to follow up with a review of the Suite to see what improvements have been made in the components and the overall fit across the Suite. Stay tuned.