Remember Quark? The developer of popular publishing software QuarkXPress has been sold to merger and acquisition firm Platinum Equity, and, according to a report from Techcrunch, the company is already focusing on finding a new home for the Quark’s IP. In the midst of heated patent battles between smartphone makers, what might the patents and technologies owned by Quark have to offer Apple?
Magazine and newspaper subscriptions are a big focus for Apple, it’s clear with the introduction of Newsstand in iOS 5, an app dedicated to helping manage digital subscriptions. Quark recently launched their QuarkXPress 9 publishing software that will allow publications to “design for and publish to digital devices in a variety of formats”, specifically the iPad, “without requiring the services of a programmer.”
Apple has helped Quark in the past, offering their services to get the publishing platform working on Mac OSX.
The majority of large publications have millions in funding behind them when creating the digital version of their magazines for the iPad. However, if Apple were to integrate Quark software into an SDK specifically for publishers, the subscriptions market on iOS devices might closer resemble the ecosystem currently in place for games. In other words, giving developers without millions in funding the “tools to convert existing layouts to rich, interactive content — or create new iPad content from scratch” may bring with it a rush of quality content with subscription models much more attractive to users than those offered by the larger publications.
Apple is clearly making digital subscriptions a focus in iOS 5 with Newsstand Kit, which provides the ability update issues in the background and auto-update subscriptions, but the SDK certainly falls short of everything Quark software could offer publishers. Quark is certainly not a newcomer to publishing software for businesses and designers. They even have a history with Apple dating back to 1985 with the introduction of the first word processor on the Apple III, Word Juggler. Their first publishing software offering was QuarkXPress in 1987, and by 1997, “QuarkXPress quickly became the world’s most widely used professional page-layout software”. Their products continue to have a dedicated user base on Mac OS X and Brian Wall of Platinum Equity said in a statement he thinks “Quark has the potential to revolutionize publishing again.”