Analysis: Illustration heating up; Macromedia, Corel challenge Illustrator’s market dominance – Adobe Systems’ illustration software

Analysis: Illustration heating up; Macromedia, Corel challenge Illustrator’s market dominance – Adobe Systems’ illustration software – Product Information

Rebecca Gulick

Competition in the illustration market is mounting as new versions of

Macromedia Inc.’s FreeHand and Corel Corp.’s CorelDraw suite put pressure on

market leader Adobe Illustrator.

Illustrator holds a commanding lead over FreeHand in the professional graphics

market, according to a study conducted last summer by TrendWatch Inc. of

Harrisville, R.I. To gain an edge, the contenders are focusing on specific

needs of new market segments, such as Web graphics.

Tom Hale, director of product management at San Francisco-based Macromedia,

said the desktop publishing sector still represents a large part of the market

for FreeHand, but now “the place where we’re doing work is the Web.” He said

growth in the Web market is strong, and in many cases Web and print users of

the $400 (street price) application are the same people.

“The bulk of people are doing print and Web [work] and want to achieve the

economy of using one tool for two purposes,” Hale said.

The market leader, Illustrator, targets the general illustration professional,

said Michael Hopwood, group product manager for illustration products at San

Jose, Calif.-based Adobe. As a result, Hopwood said, Adobe does not

“micro-market” the $595 tool for industry subsets, such as print or electronic


Analysts and users said that Version 7.0 of Illustrator may have created an

opening for its competition. Not long after its release last summer, some

longtime users criticized interface changes Adobe made to bring the package in

line with its other graphics software (see 12.15.97, Page 12).

Michael Diehl, a graphic designer in Glendale, Calif., said that he used to

prefer Illustrator for its pen tool and reliable import of files into Adobe

Photoshop. However, he said, “From the testing I’ve done with FreeHand 8, the

program has equaled its competitor.”

More competitive pressure is promised from Version 8 of CorelDraw. Corel Vice

President of Marketing Kim Dixon said that with the upgrade of the $695 suite,

“We’re moving into the area of tools for the graphic design professional.”

Dixon said CorelDraw 6.x currently commands only minimal market share among

Mac users, but the June revision will offer feature parity with the company’s

Windows suite and give CorelDraw a compatibility edge over competing

stand-alone products.

John Geleynse, Corel product manager for alternative platforms, said CorelDraw

6.0 marked the product’s entry on the Mac and wasn’t targeted at any one

graphics segment, “but with 8 we’re really targeting the high end –

professional designers and graphic artists.” He said the revision will offer

features to support both print and Web professionals. The suite, which

Ottawa-based Corel will preview next month at Seybold Seminars New York 98,

will include the PhotoPaint image-editing tool.

Also seeking more presence at the high end of the market is Miami-based Deneba

Software Inc. According to Deneba Marketing Director Calvin Hsu, his company’s

Canvas package has traditionally been strong in corporate technical

illustration, “but now we’re more focused on the professional designer.”

Hsu said the $599 integrated graphics package, now at Version 5.0.3, supports

Web- and print-based illustrators and is a small but growing player in the

professional market while also serving consumers. Hsu said it has taken some

time for the public to accept the idea of an omnibus application like Canvas.

Analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Consulting of San Jose,

Calif., said, “From Apple’s standpoint and users’ standpoint [the renewed

competition] is exciting and should at the very least light a fire under


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