The battle for market share between Adobe and Quark over desktop publishing appears likely to begin in earnest next year, according to executives from both companies speaking to Macworld.

"InDesign has been outselling XPress for the last 15 months," claimed Adobe UK's marketing director Mark Floisand, speaking at MacExpo.

Quoting industry-level sales data from technology analyst Romtec, he continued: "Publishing is key to Adobe. I can't speak to Quark's business, but if we just look at the third-party reported share data we continue to outsell them unit-on-unit every single month."

Despite Adobe's findings, QuarkXPress product manager Jurgen Kurz told Macworld: "QuarkXPress 6.0 has been the fastest-selling upgrade we have released."

Both executives agree that the creative market is seeing some recovery. Floisand said: "The last two years have been pretty hard on publishers. There's been a drive to cut costs, work harder and be more productive while dealing with declining ad revenues. Efficiency has driven investments in publishing.

"Though we are beginning to see revenue pick up there will still be a lag before people feel they are back to where they were three years ago," he said.

Kurz observed: "We are seeing more confidence in the creative industry. We also see a lot of small and large customers not just talking about buying but budgeting for our tools. I think we'll see significant sales next year."

Though recovery is coming along, Floisand said: "Business pressures on publishing continue, at least in the near-term, so their motivation for what they are doing from an IT strategy point of view continues to be about cost and productivity."

Freedom of choice

Both competing companies praised Mac OS X and the G5 Power Mac, and welcomed the more-or-less simultaneous appearance of both XPress 6.0 and InDesign CS.

Floisand said: "Customers have been telling us they want to be able to compare the overall features and benefits of the two products, and we’re getting strong feedback that our customers really like what's in the product."

"We want customers to reach their decisions as to what they want to upgrade to," he said, "so please, go ahead – review the products. There’s no reason why you shouldn't take that decision now," he said.

Kurz commented: "The arrival of InDesign has made us more flexible. When you look at moving to OS X we feel the product we are offering provides no additional headaches or training requirements. You install it and it works.

"At the end of the day it's about making sure we deliver the better product," he said.

Both men spoke of large deals at magazine, newspaper and publishing houses that they expected to be able to announce next year. While both refused to offer details, both Quark and Adobe expressed confidence that large installations of their products would be made as larger customers entered the new budget year.

Quark will release a free update for registered XPress users around mid-December. The 6.1 update is optimized for OS X 10.3 and offers significant performance improvements, Kurz said.