Friday, August 18, 2006

The Truth About PDF?

Today there was a FedEx Letter sized envelope in my mail slot. It was a faux special delivery thing with "Priority Express" written in big letters along the back and "Bulk Rate" in the upper right corner of the front.

Inside this envelope was a booklet entitled "The Truth About PDF." It came from Nuance Communications, which is the company formerly known as ScanSoft, and its purpose was to expose the myths about PDF and get me to buy their product. The myths in the booklet got two pages each and came in the descending order below.

#8 PDF software is expensive

The response is that it does not have to be, but they are not very specific, saying only that their solution can be up to 66% cheaper than what Adobe offers. Even 66% off might seem expensive to me and my negligible PDF creating needs.

#7 Only Adobe can do PDF.

No, they say, it is an open standard. But I could have derived that from Myth #8, where they state they compete with Adobe in the PDF market, primarily on price if I follow them correctly.

#6 An Acrobat File is the only type of PDF file.

Oh no, anything that is a PDF is a PDF. A replay of #6 really.

#5 PDF forms cannot be filled out and saved.

Nuance says they can, but they are not very specific, except to say that you need some other piece of software from them for this, presumably made available to anybody who needs to fill out said PDF form.

#4 PDF software is difficult to install over a network.

It seems pretty easy to install to me, but the updates for Acrobat are hell, being frequent and always requiring a restart. But the brochure is taking the view that you want to install this on every desktop in you business, so they mention how you can use SMS and active directory to push the software across your enterprise. They do not say whether or not you can do this with Adobe.

#3 PDF files can't be edited.

The response seems to be that you can edit PDFs, so long as you have our software installed. But that would be true if I had Adobe's PDF creation software installed as well.

#2 The future version of Microsoft Office (Office 12) will include PDF.

A big hedge on this one. The brochure says that, at the time of its creation, exact details on the inclusion of PDF in Office 12 were unavailable. Then it follows up with, essentially, even if it is included, it will suck.

#1 PDF software is expensive.

Redundant on purpose this time, to indicate that they are competing on price.

There are sales pitches at the front and back of the brochure that include an 800 number to call to get a free copy of their software or to order a copy, indicating that I will be speaking to somebody trying to sell me something, and not even a special somebody, but just their regular inside sales staff.

I think the biggest issue they have, which they need to address, is the fact that their product is called "PDF Converter." That name doesn't say "PDF creation tool" to me. It says, "Tool to get stuff out of PDF format."

If you are going to push a PDF creation tool, you probably should give it a better name.

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