Quark has denied stories claiming it's faltering in its commitment to the Mac market.

Quark communications manager Glen Turpin, in an email to concerned customers, claims: "Quark is not shifting its focus away from the Mac platform. Our focus remains on helping our customers solve their business problems. We will continue to develop software for Mac OS and Windows as our customers want to use these platforms."

Turpin also confirms the malaise within the US publishing industry. "The fact of the matter is that the publishing industry is hurting. Ad revenues are down globally – down as much as 70 per cent in some regions. Look on any newsstand, and you'll see that there are far fewer titles than there were two years ago, and page counts are down across the spectrum."

Publishing crisis "Publishing is in crisis," he says. "There is only one major software company that has dedicated 100 per cent of its resources to publishing: Quark." He says Quark is focusing on developing technologies to "help publishers do more with fewer resources".

Returning to the Mac, Turpin states: "With respect to Mac OS, our market data indicates that fewer publishers are purchasing Macs, and more of our Mac-using customers are considering switching to Windows. That doesn't mean we're any less committed to Mac OS. Mac users constitute the majority of our customer base. We will continue to support Mac OS (and Windows) as long as they are the platforms of choice of our customers."

The document continues to explain that the Mac OS X version of XPress is "far along" its development cycle, but testing continues.

Turpin says: "It will be a high-quality application with some paradigm-shifting new features, and consequently represents a significant development and testing effort that simply takes time."

Pouring oil on troubled waters, Turpin says: "In fact, the relationship between Quark and Apple is closer than it has been in years, and I think that the industry will be pleasantly surprised by some of the initiatives that Quark and Apple will bring to the market in the near future."

Despite the company's regular reassurances, criticism continues to flow as professional Mac users remark on the OS X-migration-slowing speed with which Quark is delivering an OS X version of its industry-standard design and layout application.

Within the industry, an increasing number of publishing houses are considering or making the move to Adobe InDesign, dubbed "Quark-killer" on its release, and widely predicted to reach version 3 before Quark releases its first Mac OS X-supporting XPress product.

This may also be the point at which publishing professionals move to upgrade their Macs, sales of which have been partially depressed by the lack of certain key applications (including XPress) on OS X, Apple says.