Frank talk from new CEO about Quark's challenges

Quark is a company facing tough challenges from Adobe and other players who have knocked the company from its once-dominant perch in the page layout software market. The company recently hired a new President and CEO, Ray Schiavone, who offered some insight about where he thinks the company needs to focus going forward.

Schiavone takes over from company VP Linda Chase, who stepped into the role of acting president since the abrupt departure of Kamar Aulakh in June, 2005. Schiavone comes to Quark from Arbortext, an XML-based authoring and automated publishing software developer.

Schiavone said that he’s aware that the company has a strained relationship with some customers and has a reputation for being uncommunicative and unhelpful.

“That’s very counter to my style,” Schiavone told Macworld . “And my sense was, ‘I can fix that.’”

Versus InDesign

Adobe has squarely focused its sights on QuarkXPress with InDesign CS2, which has caused some stalwart Quark-centric businesses to switch in recent years. The significance of this isn’t lost on Schiavone, but he sees some inherent advantages in Quark as a company.

“We’ve got an advantage in being more nimble, especially on the product development side,” said Schiavone. “We’ve got to listen to customers and to partners and figure out where the opportunities are, and we have to provide those things that Adobe and other companies are not doing. I am to bring the best in breed to our product.”

Quark’s agility in product development led the company to release a Universal binary version of QuarkXPress 7 earlier this year, while Mac users are still waiting for a version of InDesign that runs natively on Intel-based Macs. More recently, the company has introduced Quark Interactive Designer, a tool that enables QuarkXPress 7.0.2 users to create Flash content. Schiavone sees opportunities like these as key going forward.

“I’m encouraging our developers to think very hard about innovations and figure out ways that we can be first to market,” he said. Schiavone said that extends to Quark’s bevy of third-party developers and integrators.

Winning hearts and minds

Is Quark better off forgetting about customers who have defected to InDesign and going just after new market opportunities? Schiavone says no.

“Both Adobe and we have mature product lines, and we can fight for market share. And believe me, I’m not letting that fight go,” said Schiavone. “On the other hand, I believe that we have a loyal base of customers that we’re serving well and helping to grow.”

Make no mistake, though, Schiavone is looking to extend Quark’s relevance with new products.

“We’ve been a one-trick pony for a long time, and you can only ride that horse for so long,” he said. “I was brought on to extend the business and extend the product line. I’m looking for new technologies both inside and outside of Quark [to help do that].”

“Obviously what I do is more important than what I say,” said Schiavone. To that end, he hopes that Quark’s customers and partners will watch with open minds as he works to transform both Quark’s culture and its product development focus.

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