Adobe – FlashPaper vs. PDF

Wow another portable document format.  Market leader Adobe Acrobat PDF better watch out or Adobe Macromedia FlashPaper will eat their market share.  Oh wait a minute, Adobe and Adobe, oh.  I get it, another company where two divisions don’t talk to each other. 

Looks like Adobe’s been creating a new portable document format specifically for the web.  Back when Macromedia was independent the idea of a portable document format in Flash was a great idea.  Now that it’s part of Adobe does it really make sense?  What’s does FlashPaper have to offer that PDF doesn’t. 

FlashPaper’s Features
Being a BMOC, after I ran into my first bit of FlashPaper, a listing of bands for the French Quarter Festival, I had to dig a little deeper.  FlashPaper has been around since before Adobe acquired Macromedia.  Which made sense as Macromedia was in the best position to cause trouble for Adobe and probably the reason for the acquisition.  But how and why did FlashPaper survive. 

After playing around with both products, I found there are two pluses for FlashPaper.  First, it has a smaller file size.  A 3.4M Word document created a 1.1M Flash Paper and 2M PDF.  The FlashPaper files generated include outlines, page linking, and even security just like PDF.  In fact it will create a PDF file too from the desktop client or any Microsoft Office application.  So what’s the second benefit?    

The cost of FlashPaper client is $80 where Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard edition is $300.  The only thing that FlashPaper doesn’t support is merging several PDF files into one and that can come in hand at times.  FlashPaper also offers a 10-seat pack for $700.  This means that for just a little over 2 licenses of Acrobat you can get 10 of FlashPaper.  Still not as cheap as CutePDF Pro at $50 but I know that many companies will only buy from long standing vendors.  Even still it’s surprising to see that Adobe would sell a product that encroaches on its own market share.  Then again maybe we weren’t supposed to know this. 

FlashPaper’s Future
You would think Adobe would rally its forces around PDF, especially with Microsoft’s XPS (XML Paper Specification) is being embedded in Windows Vista.  Then again the lack of adoption of Vista has probably delayed the battle between XPS and PDF.  FlashPaper may stay around for some time.  At least until Microsoft starts pushing XPS.  I would use it for records or archive content as PDF has a much stronger and longer history.  But while it’s still around we should look at the FlashPaper client as a cheaper Adobe product to create PDFs. 

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