Buoyed by the completion of its restructuring program and amidst talk about its recent stock-market success, graphics and video software vendor Adobe Systems has unveiled its electronic-commerce initiative, in a move towards direct selling that has so far raised few concerns.
Launching in the US, Adobe premiered its first e-commerce-enabled site as a preview of things to come when their global online sales initiative gets under way.
The site offers consumers in North America an opportunity to download or order online and receive by mail a whole range of Adobe software previously sold only through the reseller and distributor channel.
"Customers can now buy all of our products, except for licensing agreements, at http://www.adobe.com, but electronic- commerce capabilities are currently available only to people with US credit cards and addresses," Mark Pieper, managing director of Adobe Systems Asia-Pacific, explained.
According to Pieper, the e-commerce initiative could reach Australia and New Zealand within the next 12 months, however, no details are available at present.
"There are a lot of questions we don't have answers for," Pieper said. "What we know is that the initiative will be rolled-out globally at some point within the next 12 months, but we don't know what the fulfilment mechanism is going to be or if the situation regarding pricing is going to change."
For the time being, neither Adobe nor its reseller channel seem in a hurry to re-examine their relationship.
"There is no reason we should be upset about Adobe's decision because they as a company have to do what their customers tell them to do," Nicholls-Price Online Business Sales Centre's managing director, Mike Nicholls, said. "We put together solutions for our customers that they can buy online and if those solutions include Adobe software, I doubt customers will decide to go and buy those separately. In other words, Adobe's going direct won't make a huge difference to us and we're going to continue reselling their products no matter what they do."
Online software distribution is not a novel concept for Adobe whose Acrobat reader has been downloaded via the Internet by over 200 million users. If anything, the initiative is seen as a natural progression for a company that is expected to take the lead in offering consumer-targeted software through the Internet-based rent-an-application model.
However, according to Tony Prince, managing director of Sydney retailer ComPlus, the question of whether companies selling or renting software online can provide the same level of support as a "local computer shop just around the corner" remains to be answered.
"In the short term, people might decide they want to buy something over the Web to save some a tiny amount of money, but finding somebody to serve them online is different."