Quark Connects Printers & Customers with QuarkConnects

I find it encouraging to see a company playing to its strengths — in Quark’s case, two of their big strengths is QuarkXPress’s efficiency and its ability to output successfully. At a press conference at GraphExpo this morning, Quark showed an intriguing new technology that extends this advantage to customers in a new way. Its purpose is to help output providers display their products and services, and let customers easily find them.

Named QuarkConnects, it won’t be shipping until possibly late this year, but Quark is actively soliciting input and participation from print providers right now.

Here’s how it works:
An output provider enters their products, pricing, and specifications into Quark’s database. To participate in QuarkConects, the output provider must be a member of QuarkAlliance, which costs $395 through October 31, 2007 ($100 less than its normal price of $495). This membership also includes a copy of QuarkXPress 7, a 30% discount on other products, free training, escalated technical support, and other benefits.

The customer uses an application that communicates with Quark’s servers over the Internet to download all current data from participating output providers. The customer can search for a product by category, size, number of inks, stock, location, price, company location, etc. When the customer finds a printer they want to work with, they can click a button to open a new document in QuarkXPress that matches the chosen printer’s mechanical requirements, including bleeds, number of colors, folds, etc. The document also contains metadata that tells the printer everything about what the customer wants.

When the project is ready to be output, QuarkXPress collects all its parts and sends it to the printer’s FTP site. The printer receives a message that the project has been uploaded, along with all the details of the project.

With QuarkConnects, Quark hopes to offer printers everywhere an online storefront. Printers can change prices or product offerings at any interval, and supply ads to display in QuarkConnects. Customers can find providers based on any criteria, maintain an ongoing list of favorite providers, and save specific searches for future use.

Output providers who wish to participate should contact QuarkAlliance