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e-commerce Hall of Shame

December 10, 2004

I ordered a product for download from the Adobe Store last week, for the first and last time.

I’ve made it a policy of never ordering downloadable software when physical media can be had. I’ve paid for various programs that are only available as a download, but when shrink-wrap is available, shrink-wrap is what I opt for.

Backup has long been the reason for my bias — at least with physical media, there’s always a safeguard. I’m not responsible for keeping the software protected from data failure, aside from storing the CD properly. Never did it occur to me ordering downloadable software might have even more consequences than data loss.

We’re currently in the ‘first pass’ phase of editing, which means chapters have been submitted, edited, and dumped into the book template. This is more or less the final review, unless enough needs to be changed to require second (and heaven forbid, third) passes.

Since the content is now visually mocked up, obviously Word isn’t going to cut it anymore. We’ve been passing back and forth PDF files which are best edited and annotated in Adobe Acrobat, a product I’ve never had reason to own.

So, time being an issue, off to the Adobe Store I went to pay for and download my copy. (Side note: as I’m sure is the case with most outside of the US, prices are magically increased by a margin I’ve come to refer to as the “non-American tax”. Acrobat Standard: $450 CDN in stores [pre-tax], $299 USD online [no tax]. Given the currently weak American dollar, it’s a no-brainer.)

Now here’s the process I expected, as my incentive for buying the downloadable version was to have it immediately so I could begin my notes:

  1. Add to cart.
  2. Input personal information, credit card, etc.
  3. Checkout.
  4. Download.
  5. Install.
  6. Begin editing.

I guess I have more faith in technology than I should. Murphy’s Law and a decade and a half of computing experience has taught me that nothing ever goes that smoothly, but ever the optimist, I still expected to have the product in my hands shortly after paying for it. You know by now, don’t you, that this wasn’t to be?

I made it as far as step 4, Download. Adobe has a custom download application that allows you to resume broken downloads, a great idea… with a horrible execution. Instead of ensuring I get the file, the download manager itself refused to start. Double click, wait, crash. Try again: double click, wait, crash.

Why not re-download the download manager? I couldn’t, the download had already been purged; as far as Adobe was concerned, the first few steps had been fulfilled and I now had everything I needed to complete the next steps. Except, of course, I didn’t. After a last-ditch effort involving a reboot and some finger-crossing, it was clear that I could do nothing but call the Adobe support line and have them help me out.

Here’s the process that ensued:

  1. Hit up for tech support phone number.
  2. Call support line, get told that hours are 6am to 8pm, and they’re closed for the evening.
  3. Wait a night.
  4. Call support line, summarize the problem.
  5. Provide name, phone number, order confirmation number.
  6. Listen and write down the non-toll-free number of the Acrobat support line.
  7. Call non-toll-free Acrobat support line, wait on hold for 10 minutes.
  8. Connect with Acrobat support technician, summarize the problem.
  9. Confirm that yes, I’m running Panther. Further explain that Panther translates to OS X version 10.3.6, more than enough to meet the 10.2 minimum requirements. Wonder if perhaps support technician ought to know that Panther is better than 10.2.
  10. Ask which file I was supposed to delete in order to try again? Confirm that I didn’t have that file, as I hadn’t even made it that far in the process. Suggest that download wasn’t the issue, whereas software quality might be.
  11. Listen and write down the toll-free number of the Online Store.
  12. Call toll-free online store support, wait on hold an additional 8 minutes.
  13. Summarize problem, explain support technician recommended a download reset on the online store.
  14. Receive confirmation of reset, hang up.
  15. Re-download download manager. Install. Watch it crash.
  16. Call back toll-free online store support, greet support line attendant with a growing sense of familiarity.
  17. Summarize problem, explain again that it really doesn’t seem like the download manager wants to work on my Mac, ask what further options are available.
  18. Confirm that no, I don’t have “Netscape” on my Mac, but okay fine, I do have Internet Explorer 5.02.
  19. Re-download download manager before hanging up; confirm that nothing has been fixed, suggest that perhaps the browser is not the issue since the crash happens only upon install, and not during download.
  20. Confirm that yes, okay, I do have a Windows computer.
  21. Boot Windows computer. Ask if I must really load up Internet Explorer to do this. Confirm that yes, I suppose I do have “Netscape” on this computer. Use.
  22. Login to online store. Download download manager, install, and run.
  23. Thank attendant for help.

Adobe has always been an extremely Mac-oriented company, by necessity. Have they lost touch with a large part of their core customer base? Needless to say, shrink-wrap is all that I will buy from now on, if at all possible.

Reader Comments

Dave S. says:
December 10, 01h

“I would be tempted to tell the Adobe tech support guys “Just give me a working serial number and I’ll download the software from someone more reliable, like a Bittorrent site”

Heh. Wish I’d thought of that at the time.

Adrian says:
December 10, 01h


I’ve had similar problems, and it’s for this exact reason that I only buy shrinkwrapped products unless there is no other alternative. If I do buy online, I only buy where I can also order that a physical media gets mailed to me in the event that I ever need to re-install said product.

I totally feel for you… This is for a pretty popular product too… I can’t believe they don’t make something a little more generic for the sake of reliability in downloading their products. The whole point of buying it online is so you can have it as soon as you’ve downloaded it. Scrooging your download is not a good thing.

Paul D says:
December 10, 01h

“Just give me a working serial number and I’ll download the software from someone more reliable, like a Bittorrent site…”

Heh, too funny. Software companies need to treat filesharing networks as competition the way Steve Jobs and iTunes do, instead of punishing their customers. Be better, easier, and safer to use, and customers will choose you over free alternatives.

I’ve had great experiences purchasing software online from companies like Panic, but from the sounds of things, I’m best off avoiding Adobe.

Jarrod says:
December 10, 01h

I’ve had the same problem before when I had a dedicated windows 2000 server. I had to download the software, because I didn’t have physical access to the machine. And it was horrible… because of that, I too, always opt for the box.

It seems, however, that smaller companies that sell programs for $20-30 have a seamless system and I’ve never had a problem downloading and paying for that software… the big guys make it too complicated…

Keep It Simple Stupid!

dusoft says:
December 10, 01h

And I bet you don’t want to hear about Adobe E-books (i.e. e-books bought at Amazon in PDF format). They are so called encrypted and secured by Adobe Digital Rights Management Software.

But of course, it doesn’t work that easy. First you need to obtain MSN Passport (at Adobe site!!!), activate the book (e.g. receive a kay). OK, page with message Activated comes up. Great. However nothing changes and when trying to open e-book, Adobe Reader says “You don’t have rights to read this book”. OK, trying once more, but nothing happens. Explorer sucks. Starting Firefox, pasting the link, downloading to desktop. Running the digital key. OK, finally activated.

Second day. Bringing the e-book somewhere else to print it. Tryin to open it - “It’s not possible to view this e-book. It has already been activated. If you want to use it on more computers, you need to activate this and that…”

However, when activated on the second computer, it stops working at first.

Adobe sucks pretty much, I can tell you. I know for sure that if I had known this (whole activation process), I would have rather bought paperback. Do Not Ever Buy E-Book at Amazon, I really warn you. You can’t read it properly.

Martin Alderson says:
December 10, 01h

Let me play devil’s advocate for a second.

Apple has taken Adobe’s video editing market entirely. If I were Adobe, I would not invest heavily in a market where the OS manufacturer has such a record of introducing new products and killing my market. Microsoft obviously did this with Netscape, so I’m not saying they are excused from this, but Apple has done it time after time.

Add to this that the Mac is a ever dwindling Photoshop/Indesign market (most have switched to Windows for various reasons), and as Adobe I would not be investing too heavily in this.

Johnson Page says:
December 10, 01h

Anyone else notice the post-stub for the URL is “ecommerce_ha”? E-commerce, ha! Oh dear.

On a more related note, I’m wondering why they still ask about “Netscape” rather than Mozilla, or Firefox - especially considering the poor quality of its most recent releases. Surely if someone was savvy enough to be using an online store to download one of Adobe’s products they wouldn’t be using such an out-of-date browser.

December 10, 02h

Wow that story reminds me of another Adobe blooper:

December 10, 02h

“Add to this that the Mac is a ever dwindling Photoshop/Indesign market (most have switched to Windows for various reasons)”

This comment intrigues me as it flies in the face of what I’ve heard. Can anybody confirm and/or elaborate? I’m curious.

December 10, 02h

This may or may not help you, but if you are trying to create PDFs from word, you may be able to do this from your print menu, depending on your printer drivers (and perhaps your computers mood). Go file to Print and on the print options that pop up, many printers will have an option to Save as PDF and you can tell it where to save the file and what to name it and all that good stuff. This will generally work with most software, though not always. The graphic design firm I interned at showed me this trick, and it worked from Quark XPress on their computers, but my computer won’t do it from Quark (but it will from Word and Illustrator). Go fig.

shawn says:
December 10, 02h

I don’t see much validity in Martin’s devils advocate position. Sure there have been cases where Apple has pretty obviously shafted a software company, in this case, I don’t think that has happened. There is plenty of room for competition in the video editing market.

Apple saw the products that were available and knew that they could do better, so they did. How did Adobe respond? They backed down, obviously defeated. Rather than innovate and one-up Apple, they seemingly gave up. So much for competition. Yeah it makes Apple look like a bully, but what they did seems fair to me - they made better software. Simple as that.

Even if Martin’s position does have validity, how is Adobe’s shafting Mac users going to do them any good at all? It puts an even further bad taste in people’s mouths and when the time comes that there is once again a choice when it comes to page layout apps (or any of Adobe’s other significant footholds), do you think people are gonna stick with Adobe?

Treat your customers right and they’ll be customers for life. Yeah, Adobe makes good products, but they also don’t have much competition in many areas. Someday perhaps they will. Then we can have a say and they’ll have no choice but to listen.

December 10, 03h

Had a very similar experience just last week actually. Even worse, however, I had deleted Mac IE from my machine a few weeks back, having absolutely no need for it any longer. Oops. Kinda got stuck after checkout. Went through about a 2 hour process to reinstall IE, get tech support on the phone, and all that garbage.

Mac IE of all things??! Crrhh… Adobe… Hello?… Over… Crrhh…

December 10, 03h

Case in point as to why I use Windows. No offense.

December 10, 04h

Wow, that really is a pain in the backside, I can imagine that you were very frustrated after going through all those steps.

I have to say shrink-wrapped would also be my preference, you pay alot for the software, why miss out on all the extra goodies that comes in the box?

Plus, no proprietary download managers ;)

Martin Alderson says:
December 10, 07h

I don’t have any hard figures on this, sorry. But what I do know is that Apple’s marketshare has decreased from 5% in 1997 to less than 2% in 2002. It will probably be under 1.5%.

The Windows machine switching thing is purely from what I’ve seen, heard and read. Back in 2000 or so nearly every newspaper was running Mac with Quark. Now they all run Windows with InDesign or Quark. Why? Because Windows admins are far cheaper, Windows programmers are much more available (for writing custom apps which are vital in a newspaper style organisation) and also the fact Dell whoops Apple’s ass when it comes to enterprise support, pricing and warranty.

As for Apple shafting people, sorry, but this most definitely is a case. Yes, maybe Apple’s product was and is better. Yes, Adobe should probably of invested more in Mac than it did. But go look on’s special deals - you’ll find plenty of ‘buy a dual G5 and get Final Cut Pro half price’. Adobe cannot compete with that, and Apple fans are fiercely loyal and a hell of a lot of them would happily buy FCP just because they got it half price with the Mac, just like Windows users are not going to go to the bother of downloading Netscape when their is a big OEM-mandated IE button on the desktop.

Also, on a purely technical standpoint Apple is far better off. Say they wanted to go after Photoshop directly. What they could do is use the Cocoa APIs which are far more responsive and fit in better with OSX as a whole. Adobe would be stuck with using the Carbon APIs and have a shockingly huge project to port it over to Cocoa to be competitive with Apple - remember, they’d have to ensure all the plug-ins still work with it. They’d look at the total, say ‘no way’, and drop/slowly phase out Photoshop on the Mac (I don’t think this will happen - for a long time, at least). Apple could then push ‘Final Photo Pro’ or whatever with the new G6 Mac and happily wave Adobe good-bye.

Another example would be IE on the Mac, Apple releases its Cocoa based Safari, a few months later MS decides it’s not worth porting IE to Cocoa from Carbon and gives up.

The main trouble with this option is that Apple is increasingly scaring developers off and also increasing the amount of developers and engineers they need. They didn’t really used to supply much of the Mac’s software, now many people use nothing _but_ Apple’s software on their Mac - iChat, Safari, Final Cut Pro, iPhoto and iTunes. In the past you’d of used AIM, IE, Premiere/Avid, some third party photo manager and Musicmatch. I think this trend is very worrying and if I were a Mac developer I certainly would be thinking seriously about my future.

December 10, 08h

Sorry Martin, but the APIs to which you refer? You mean the APIs which Apple release to all developers who ask for it?

Are you talking about the same Steve Jobs who basically went on to say that they are hoping that they can ensure that Adobe will work with them to create a better integrated system of software packages?

Final Cut Pro special deal? Personal users perhaps but if you are talking about businesses then you will see that they are offering £300 off on Quark purchased with a G5.

With reference to IE:mac and any comparison with Safari is definitely laughable. I actually installed IE:mac and nearly fell out of my chair laughing. It’s terribly out of place with the rest of the Mac experience. Don’t forget, Microsoft had access to the same APIs which many other mac developers have had.

iTunes - personal music program, iChat - personal chat client, iPhoto - personal photographic software, iDVD, iMovie, iCouldGoOnForeverProbably.
Adobe Creative Suite - Enterprise level multimedia suite, Macromedia, Quark. Anyway, I think I’ve just about got my point across. Apple are trying to boost software design for the platform. They are doing their best to actually promote creativity, synchronisation and amalgamation of application suites with a Mac OS X system.

Tony says:
December 10, 09h

The only non-boxed software I’ve bought is McAfee VirusScan Online. The good thing about their system is, because it’s subscription based, you have a site you can log into and redownload whenever needed. For instance, i got a new computer recently, and I didn’t have to worry about what to do for virus protection, I just logged in and downloaded.

Stephen says:
December 10, 10h

It seems foolish for Adobe to disregard Apple/Mac for any aspect of editing or design software. Yes, Apple does maintain a very small percentage of overall computer users, but I would venture a guess that many who do use Macs do so because of the design software element.

Even based on assumptions (always dangerous), many Windows users will agree that Apple has a better grasp on the design/editing environment than PC’s. However, Adobe seems to forget this and does not offer Premiere Pro for the Mac! You have to use XP:

Sara says:
December 10, 11h

I had a similar experience with Adobe once (although thankfully I didn’t have to go so far as to use a Windows machine to download it), and from that point on I made a point of always buying the boxed software. It’s stupid that they’ve had to ruin what should be a relatively quick and painless process.

Casey says:
December 10, 12h

Yikes! I was just about to buy a big purchase but i guess i won’t be, seeing as how i’m running on a similar setup but with no windows alternative to use.

Jason says:
December 10, 12h

Wow, that’s shocking and appaling. You would think things like this would be worked out before, or at least have some sort of fault tolerance for instances like this (besides using IE) - like possibly even downloading without using the manager?

Dave S. says:
December 10, 12h

Casey — though it would surprise me if so, it’s possible not all Adobe products use the same download manager. That I was referred specifically to Acrobat support, despite clearly identifying the download manager as the problem, suggests perhaps the applications have their own custom managers. Which wouldn’t make much sense, but what do I know, I’m not working there.

Jason — exactly. A 200MB ZIP file on a broadband connection wouldn’t be a problem, but the only alternative to using the download manager they came up with was mailing me the media. At that point I’d have asked for a refund and hit up the local Mac store.

cam c. says:
December 10, 12h

The last download I paid for online was some Emigre fonts… their system was flawless. Macromedia was pretty good too; we bought a copy of Contribute (ugh) for a customer that way.

It sounds to me like the key flaw here was the fact that Adobe insists on forcing people to use their download manager. I’m sure they have several reasons for it, but I’m also sure fear of piracy is a big one… but it that’s the case, they’re wasting their time… nothing is ever going to stop people from illegally copying software, and furthermore, there is the potential of alienating the people who ARE willing to pay for the software.

Now, not that I’m condoning piracy, but one would think that it should be easier to download software that you pay for than it is to get the same software illegally. However, installing a p2p program and finding an illegal copy of Acrobat sounds like a lot less trouble than what you went through, Dave… I would be tempted to tell the Adobe tech support guys “Just give me a working serial number and I’ll download the software from someone more reliable, like a Bittorrent site…” :)

(Just reminded myself of a funny sidebar “News In Brief” headline from The Onion a few months ago: “Photoshop Actually Bought…”)

December 10, 12h

You’d think the Adobe Downloader would work smoothly on the Mac since most of their clients use the Apple platform. I guess it is a Windows world after all.

And Adobe wonders why they have to fight rampant piracy. Maybe this is one of the reasons. Probably not, but it makes you wonder.

Charles says:
December 11, 01h

I know that at least in the marketing/advertising world, Macs are being pushed aside more and more in favour of Windows machines. The reasons for this are (imo) at least partly to do with a switch in corporate culture and structure. Several years ago, the creatives were the big computer users. Others may have used them only for word processing, etc. Now that everyone in an agency, from the Intern up to the Principals have computers - and do almost all their work on them - the agencies want things more uniform, and don’t want to shell out $2500 for the “fussy” creatives when they can just get a Windows box for half as much. This is not to mention that a different platform usually requires a separate and very expensive group license on the software. Another factor is now you have Project Managers and a lot more IT/Tech people in an agency, and these people tend to not have a creative background and are more comfortable with Windows. So everything comes down to efficiency and utilisation. Stick everyone with the same generic box which Tech can troubleshoot without special knowledge.

December 11, 02h

Just wanted to clarify some earlier comments regarding FCP: Apple actually bought it as a nearly-completed package from Macromedia, rewrote the GUI to meet their own guidelines, and called it Final Cut Pro. They didn’t develop it from scratch …

On a related note, DVDSP actually came from a company called Astarte, who had developed it as an Xtra for Macromedia Director. Apple bought it, killed it as a Director Xtra and turned it into DVDSP v1.

Priit says:
December 11, 02h

Dave, do you have this download manager still on your Mac? Could you log in as a root and try again?

December 11, 03h

I am suprised that such a large (and otherwise brilliant) company such as Adobe Software would not only develop such a poor “download manager” for the Macintosh platform, but they’ll even make you call 3 different tech support offices… and even when you finally reach the right office; they treat you like dirt (by the sounds of it).

Thanks for the heads up though. I won’t be buying anything from the Adobe store. They’re are plenty of local computer stores that sell (holy) shrink-wrapped versions of such software.

Rob says:
December 11, 05h

> Adobe has always been an extremely Mac-oriented company, by necessity.

Your a bit behind the times. They are anything but extremely Mac-orientated.

Jacqui says:
December 11, 06h

I’ve been cautiously unsettled about a shift in Adobe’s quality axis for a year or two now. Shows up most in a change in focus in their seminars here in Sydney. Presentation seems to have changed from professional expertise, leading, or at least, keeping up with the way ahead, to more recent times, where pitch rather than content is king, and belief in product comes across as stretched as a used-car salesman selling the worst car on the lot. Don’t know if that goes hand-in-hand with the change over recent years from a Mac market focus to Windows, but the change in attitude has turned me off listening to their pitches, even though I’ll keep using their products.

I’d love to stay in love with Adobe forever, but relationships have gotta be two-way, hey.

Martin Alderson says:
December 11, 08h

Paul, you managed to miss my point entirely. The point is that Apple can start from scratch with the latest APIs when they buy/start a new app. Others can’t or don’t feel it is a good value proposition. Rewriting Photoshop into Cocoa for Mac might requrire the revenue of 3 years of Mac photoshop sales. It’s just not going to happen. Instead, they’ll focus on Windows where Microsoft is not going to intervene.

And as for buying it FCP, it’s doesn’t matter. The person who started it could start using Cocoa straight away instead of Carbon. That gives you a huge leap in intergration and performance.

I really can’t see any change to this when Apple charges $2,500 for a Dual 2GHz Mac. Dell would do you that for around $1,000 (wouldn’t be dual CPU, but then again, dual-CPUs are very hard to take advantage of) and it’d have a much more HDD, RAM and GPU power.

Apple has also ‘killed’ Konfabluator or however the hell it’s spelt, by having dashboard in Tiger. They have went to Windows. Same thing will probably happen with most Mac RSS clients with Safari RSS.

To me, this is a bit like Macromedia sending your final design comp to them and at the very last minute Macromedia takes your design contract and gives them a very similar design. It seems to me that ‘shareware’ developers are doing little more than market research for Apple at the moment.

December 11, 08h

Martin A. said:

” The point is that Apple can start from scratch with the latest APIs when they buy/start a new app.”

Huh? *Anyone* can start from scratch using the Cocoa APIs when they “start a new app.”

When Apple *buys* an App, converting it to use the Cocoa APIs is just as much work as if they were converting a legacy App that they had written themselves.

You are confused if you think that, being Apple, they can just wave a magic wand and convert a 3rd party App to Cocoa, whereas a company like Adobe would have to sweat blood to do the same.

I happen to think that using Cocoa has a lot of benefits over Carbon. Most Apple users, however, could care less.

Do you even *know* which Apple Applications use Cocoa and which use Carbon?

I doubt it. (Hint: Final Cut Pro is a Carbon App.)

December 11, 09h

Well there’s a new one:
“Do you have netscape?”

I was supprised it wasn’t more like:
“Do you have IE6.54436 Windows Service Pack 4? No, you don’t? Oh well. (Hand up)”

December 11, 12h

>> “Add to this that the Mac is a ever dwindling Photoshop/Indesign market (most have switched to Windows for various reasons)” <<

> “This comment intrigues me as it flies in the face of what I’ve heard. Can anybody confirm and/or elaborate? I’m curious.” <

I don’t know the stats, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s true. My experience in a newsroom is that there is a lot of pressure to switch Mac workflows to PC when the opportunity is available.

The daily paper where I work wants to switch the newsroom to one system… currently there is a main PC-based copy flow system. Illustrators, photo desk, and design desk use Macs with separate servers and software that ties into that PC-based copy system.

TPTB have an opportunity to purchase an upgraded version of this copy system at a very low cost. It will use InDesign as the pagination app. If they do this, they’d move to one platform for all reporters, copy editors, and designers. But that platform probably won’t be Mac because of cost and the lack of one key program on the Mac side.

(Photo and Illustration, though, still use some Mac-only apps that would preclude their switching to PC)

December 11, 12h

Wow, thats not cool at all. You would think that a company as big as Adobe would have that figured out for all platforms and OS’s. And, as many of you have said, let us use our own download manager/program. Thanks for the warning. I’ve never done it, but this just reinstated what was already in my mind - the CD’s always better.

December 11, 12h

Hmmm….seems Adobe really needs to get back to their roots and start listening to customers.

I have visited the support forums at Adobe a number of times to get questions answered and man, is there a pile of disgruntled registered users. The download manager problems are minor compared to some. Its Sad.

My own horror story with Adobe…I had my Illustrator disks (V9) stolen and had not upgraded to V10/CS. I reported the theft to Adobe. They said I could upgrade to 10 or CS given that I was a registered user of every product they have ever made. Except they can’t find my original order for Illustrator (bought online at their store) as well as LiveMotion (not that it matters). So they tell me I have to provide MY ORIGINAL box and INVOICE from the original version of Illustrator. Not any of the NUMEROUS upgrades but a box and receipt from 9+ years ago.Yikes.

I call support again after looking for the receipt and they advise its quicker to order the product using a competing product upgrade (I am a licensed Macromedia Studio MX customer). I spend 45 minutes on the phone writing down codes and numbers. Twice I get hung up on. I finally get a real person, given them my case # and information, they advise me that I DON’T qualify and that I am a pirate who is in their system with stolen software. This accusation after buying close to $13,000 in software from them.

Sad what Adobe is doing to their clients (MAC or WIN).


December 12, 02h

Dave, your reference to ‘non-american tax’ really made me laugh, but it’s one of those things that really gets my goat too. I actually had three phone conversations with people from Adobe (and the same with Macromedia) asking why their prices were so high outside of the US.

I too was accused of trying to obtain software illegally (even though I was trying legally to purchase four licensed copies of Adobe Creative Suite Premium) and only because I was trying to find out why I was being charged so much.

Jokers - it wouldn’t bother me so much if the prices were the same, but I don’t see why use brits should have to pay £927 when the product retails for $1229 - the equivalent (at time of writing) of around £640.

I’d really love an explanation of what the “non-american tax” is actually in place for.

Henry Blackman says:
December 12, 06h

“Non-American Tax”: There are lots of reasons:
1. Remember sales tax in the US states is not paid for online purchases, whilst in the EU (for example) the national rate for VAT is applied. In the UK that makes a difference of 17.5%. When adding VAT you’ll find that the difference can often disappear.

2. Exchange rates differ by the day, and that difference cannot be taken into account. The weak dollar should mean international sales are cheaper, but of course they aren’t. Agreements with distributers are made infrequently, if indeed more than once. It’s not exactly the software vendors fault, but they aren’t helping. Even Apple didn’t set a price on the iPod mini for Europe initially, waiting closer to the release date so the exchange rate could be accounted for.

3. Shipping must be accounted for, when selling internationally. It costs money for vendors, based in the US, to sell a product overseas, even if it only comes down to posting the box by USPS.

In the UK we love to claim we are being ripped off when we compare prices internationally, however a recent TV programme showed us we paid 70 UKP more than our US cousins for an iPod. One guy flew to NYC to buy this (and other things) and saved money doing so. However, he broke the law by not paying VAT or duty on entering the UK. What the programme didn’t cover was that after VAT, and duty was added, the difference was only 13 UKP. Not so much of a difference after all, and that difference probably accounts for the difference in the exchange rate.

If anyone is to blame, it’s international governments: the British government, and the EU directives which are generally greed driven. Hello? Highest taxes in the world are found in Europe.

Chris Magee says:
December 12, 07h

Martin said:

“But what I do know is that Apple’s marketshare has decreased from 5% in 1997 to less than 2% in 2002. It will probably be under 1.5%.”

Martin, those are quarterly sales numbers. The actual market share when you count actual users is still more like 10%.

Not only that, but current figures indicate the so-called “halo-effect” of the iPod is resulting in an increase of switchers from Windows to Mac.

Yes, you can get a Dell cheaper than a G5. It will still run an inferior, virus- and spyware-prone OS (I mean Windows, in case you’re wondering) and it will be obsolete far faster than the Mac will. There are still folks out there still getting use out of 15 year old Macs, but when was the last time you saw anyone using a 286 or 386?

The up front cost of the PC is still not the best way to judge the total cost of ownership. The Mac still gives better value and return on investment with a better, more stable OS, better productivity and longer lifespan. Just MHO.

Adobe’s been trying to foist this Download Manager on us for a long time. It doesn’t work for me, either. Yes, I’d stick with the boxed product.

Martin Alderson says:
December 12, 07h

Jacques, I haven’t actually used Final Cut Pro so please disregard my comments on it. Yes, thinking about it is most def. is a Carbon app.

My point is that Adobe cannot convert their apps to Cocoa like Apple can, or anyone else. They cannot just drop millions of lines of code and port them over to Cocoa while it being a good investment. Apple (and anyone else) can, because they can start from scratch, get rid of all the cruft in the code and streamline it. People will also not expect it to look and work exactly like the carbon app, which Adobe’s ports will have to.

December 12, 09h


Interesting comments indeed, but I must say that, last time I checked, I didn’t need to pay import duty on bits and bytes downloaded on the internet.

Actual physical products - fair enough, there are certain things you have to pay (well, actually, it was a gift from a family member…)

Downloads? There’s no way that anyone will convince me that I should have to pay a greater price elsewhere in the world if I don’t want boxes, manuals and CDs.

December 12, 11h

Martin A wrote:

“My point is that Adobe cannot convert their apps to Cocoa like Apple can, or anyone else. They cannot just drop millions of lines of code and port them over to Cocoa while it being a good investment. Apple (and anyone else) can, because they can start from scratch, get rid of all the cruft in the code and streamline it. People will also not expect it to look and work exactly like the carbon app, which Adobe’s ports will have to.”

This describes the situation with respect to *any* entrenched software leader and any would-be upstart competitor. The words “Adobe”, “Apple”, “Carbon” and “Cocoa” have little to do with it.

The entrenched leader has an existing code-base, and a locked-in user-base. Doing anything really radical means throwing away a big part of that code-base and “unlocking” those locked-in users.

The upstart competitor has neither of those. This is both a disadvantage and a (potential) advantage.

In the world of software, thus it has always been and thus it shall always be.

Steven Lyons says:
December 13, 01h

>>”I know that at least in the marketing/advertising world, Macs are being pushed aside more and more in favour of Windows machines. The reasons for this are (imo) at least partly to do with a switch in corporate culture and…”<<

Show me an ad agency/marketing agency/design studio that switches to an all PC/Windows shop and I’ll show you a business that has a VERY difficult time retaining and or hiring those “fussy” creatives that actually make that company function.

Where’s John Gruber,, when you need him. I’ve seen plenty of articles from him and others that take these same WinBlows propaganda arguments and blow them out of the water. Much of the corporate “switching” to PC is overblown and or rumor.

December 13, 03h

“Show me an ad agency/marketing agency/design studio that switches to an all PC/Windows shop”

I can give an example of a company that will not., and that is the shop name as well as the domain name, set up in my town and I popped in to get some business cards.

I knocked a nice jpeg up of the design and wandered around to the shop. iMac G4s every one of them with 20ish” displays and some very smartly dressed men and women taking my details. I felt stupid. Needless to say, I returned several hours later with a CMYK PSD so as to avoid their conversion and design fees.

Top service, nice prices, nice iMacs. Think they’ll be switching any time soon? Heh

jake says:
December 13, 07h

Wow, remarkably this does not surprise me. I actually downloaded ATM last week cause I had what seemed to be a corrupted Type 1 font and wanted to see how it handled it. They actually gave you an option there that bypassed the download manager. Too bad they don’t do that for paid downloads.

I too have had a bad experience with ebooks like dusoft (

I downloaded an ebook for friend at work a couple years ago. I didn’t have a couple days for waiting and even overnight wouldn’t work as it was late in the day, so why not just download. It was a cliff notes thing or something. Naturally it was not readable anywhere except for my work computer, I couldn’t even activate it somewhere else. So I thought, ok, I’ll just print out the relevant stuff but that was also a no go. It had 100% restriction on printing anything. So now I wasted 10 bucks on something that was utterly useless.

In all my attempts to use it in another way besides just reading it through adobe on my work computer something happened to the file. It was a couple years ago so I don’t remember what exactly but basically now I couldn’t re-download it either as it expired. I called up Amazon and was told there was nothing that could be done. The publisher was responsible for the restrictions and I basically had just wasted 10 bucks for now having nothing.

I will never buy an ebook again related to this type of software. It’s too bad my little voice won’t make them wake up and smell the coffee that restricting things just pisses off paying customers. I’m sure if I tried and had some extra time I could have found a way to kill the restrictions.

December 13, 11h

I’d really like a Mac sometime, but the price is just too out-there. Besides, I can make myself believe that a PC is even cheaper by just upgrading components one at a time instead of purchasing a brand-new box.

Supporting small-time developers is one thing, but I don’t think I’d ever purchase > $50 worth of software as a download without them also mailing me a disc.

I liked that ‘Non-American Tax’ as well… I recently bought Paul Graham’s book online, and the cost to buy it from (halfway across the continent) and (in the same city) was almost identical.

I’m really digging the crappy US dollar, though. It’s a great time to purchase online for us Canucks.

Ben says:
December 14, 01h

I had a similar experience on the Symantec site, where, after checkout, it said to “Click on download button”. There was a button, but not clickable. It took me about 10 minutes to find a phone number for “Client support”. And I got to listen to some nice music for another 15 minutes before my call was answered.

December 14, 05h

@Martin Alderson: Don’t want to start a Mac/PC thing but I am sorry all your arguments are sounding typically PC. Forget about those market share numbers since a lot of the PC’s sold today are being used as dummy terminals for all kind of operations. If those research firms would actually check if these pc’s are being used by a person and compare those with Apple’s figures you’ll get a complete different picture. Also Apple stores are proven to be hot sellers and 50% percent of the people buying there are formally Windows users. So yes Apple is losing market share quickly! They have 5 billion in the bank so it’s going downhill since 2000 and no please it’s not because the iPod.

And Dell whopping Apple’s ass I don’t think so, please check your facts and prices and compare systems as they should be compared. A good read about this is found on this Linux site.

Remember you can’t compare a Porsche with a Honda.

Damian says:
December 14, 07h

Paul Connelly:

“With reference to IE:mac and any comparison with Safari is definitely laughable. I actually installed IE:mac and nearly fell out of my chair laughing.”

ROTFL. I couldn’t agree more, Paul. And you know why IE was on the Mac in the first place, too, I’ll bet. But in case anyone else doesn’t, I’ll paste the link in below. It’s a very small part of a much larger story concerning a company that really does “shaft competitors”.

Basically, Bill G told Steve Jobs that they’d cripple Apple by withholding Office for Mac if Apple didn’t take IE for Mac, so that dear Bill could shaft Netscape. Steve Jobs couldn’t let Apple go down the pan, so his hands were a bit tied.

MS used every dirty trick in the book to destroy Netscape. I’m tempted to say that anyone who decides not to use a certain platform and to move to Mac or Linux after knowing the full facts is making a moral stand as well as moving to a technically better alternative:,00.html

Radsoft also have an interesting Mac site by the way:

December 17, 11h

Karma dude … have you been mean to people lately? ;)

Jon Berg says:
December 18, 03h

The great potential of E-Biz is that thing should get done automated and quickly. From the sellers perspective they don’t need to have a lot of manpower to do stuff by manual. From the buyers perspective it is easy of use. This was obvious not the case for you. It is in Adobe’s best interest to make buying go smooth.

Olly says:
December 20, 06h

(I haven’t read the other comments so this might have been said already)

Admittedly I wasn’t buying from their store, but last time I downloaded something from, I unchecked the box marked “use Adobe download manager” and downloaded it the old fashioned way.

Perhaps if its not already there, the store ought to have that option?

Jess Have says:
December 21, 06h

I must admit that I prefer a downloadable version. All manuals etc. become obsolete pretty fast anyway. However, here in Luxembourg we aren’t able to buy a shrink wrapped copy online.
OK, you say. Buy it at the local supplier. Sure, as long as you buy a full version. I have a copy of Adobe Elements 2.0 for Mac, that I can’t update unless I buy a full version. The upgrade version is not available here.
Adobe is more and more similar to Microsoft as far as customer service is concerned.

December 23, 05h

You know, it’s a pity when comments lapse into the “holy platform wars” back alley like they have here. Get over your platform bigotry please - the topic was (and still should be) the fact that Adobe does not get e-commerce or customer service.

As a lifelong Mac user who currently works for a Windows and UNIX software company and happily uses a Tablet PC all day long (yes, I also have a lovely Mac G5 dualie in my office) as well as someone who has bought just about every product Adobe has ever released, I can feel Dave’s pain. I made the recent mistake of ordering an upgrade to Acrobat Pro 7.0 before it began shipping and now no one at Adobe can even tell me when I’ll get it (the order info page says it’s “back ordered”). This despite all their marketing blather that it would ship “before the end of the year”.

I guess they still have a week left then.

Their DRM on e-books is absolutely heinous. Their once fine customer and technical support has become as bad as Dell’s (they’re both companies I once recommended and now steer clear of pointing others to).

This is where there is plenty of room for smaller companies that still value their customers to prosper. My little company has over 1 million licenses sold in 103 countries - all by download. We sell to Fortune 50 companies and college students. No e-mail goes more than 4 hours without receiving a human response.

Bottom line: Adobe has taken its eye off the ball. They’ve forgotten who they once were.