Adobe Systems Incorporated

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How was Postscript established as a de facto standard? How did Adobe make money from Postscript, despite its being an “open” standard?

Through the voluntary spin off of two Xerox scientists, John Warnock and Charles Geschke, Adobe System Incorporated was founded and the Adobe’s first product was launched with an important revolution in the whole market. PostScript, in fact, became in a really short time the standard for printing in the graphic arts and publishing industries with a product extremely successful and diffused. Its success can surely be explained with the lack of competition for the novelty grade and the intrinsic characteristics of the product. In this way Adobe possessed a competitive edge due to its first mover strategy and had the possibility to change the game rules through his behavior. In order to establish PostScript as the standard of the market, Adobe decided to make the product open and freely available because it would have been impossible to avoid or to control the imitation of the product through the only use of patents or trademarks. Even if an open standard increases the competition and the imitation, the Adobe’s strategy was focused on the strict implementation of the product through its own competencies, the image of the brand and a sort of “tacit knowledge” about the product. PostScript, such as the other Adobe products, was based on “a product as a system”, that is a product who is the result of a strategic alliance of four firms: Adobe, Apple, Aldus and Linotype. In this way the product gained a different value proposition based on customers’ needs and professional quality. The creation of an efficient standard, the leverage on the market through the strong alliances and a qualified targeting of the demand led Adobe to increase its power on the market and extent the product diffusion. The standard was established because it was freely available and also diffused through the product system to increase the number of users....
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