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Acrobat alternative Nitro PDF Desktop goes on sale, starts "PDF wars"

May 06, 2005

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ARTS PDF has announced that its Acrobat alternative, Nitro PDF Professional, went on sale this week at an aggressively-priced $99.

Launched at the Adobe Acrobat PDF Conference in Orlando, Florida, two weeks ago, a pre-release version of the software was made available for download at the Nitro PDF web site. Following a strategy not dissimilar to Google with its beta product releases, ARTS PDF invited pre-release users to participate in the final testing and evolution of Nitro PDF by welcoming feedback and ideas.

The April announcement and now official commercial release of Nitro PDF has sparked industry-wide debate as the product challenges category-leader Acrobat for a market that is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion.

In an interview with Dr Moira Gunn on NPR's Tech Nation this week, ARTS PDF chief executive Karl De Abrew and chief operating officer Sam Chandler suggested that the full potential of PDF had not yet been realized.

Referring to the 700 million users of the free Adobe Reader software, Chandler said that there was a difference between viewing PDF and "engaging" with PDF.

"Instead of having this large mass of people who can do nothing but view PDF files, we want to have a mass of people who can engage with PDF, collaborate using PDF, create PDF. [Adobe] Reader has been what has promoted the ubiquity of PDF and now, what we are now trying to do [with Nitro] is promote the ubiquity of true document interchange," Chandler said.

ARTS PDF has said before that Nitro's feature set and price point are designed to drive the ubiquitous adoption of "true electronic document interchange capabilities."

With Nitro PDF's explosive arrival the implications for Acrobat and Adobe are as-yet uncertain. In her keynote speech at last month's Adobe Acrobat PDF Conference and in an interview with Planet PDF, Pam Deziel, Adobe's director of Acrobat product marketing, estimated the untapped market demand for Acrobat to run to nearly 100 million more users.

ARTS PDF has said it is confident of capturing some of that demand.

"While Acrobat with its approximately $300-450 price point has traditionally been attractive at the senior executive level or for creative professionals, Nitro is targeting the more price-sensitive user in the market," says Chandler.

With Nitro PDF, ARTS PDF has fired its first salvo in what could be an intense and protracted battle for PDF.

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