Adobe, FedEx Kinko's pair up to ease document printing

Deal enables U.S. users of Adobe software to send documents via the Internet to FedEx Kinko's centers for printing

A Web services partnership will allow U.S. users of Adobe Systems software to send documents via the Internet to FedEx Kinko's centers for printing.

The deal was announced Wednesday, the same day that Adobe released its Reader 8.1, which includes a "send to FedEx Kinko's" button on the main toolbar and that same option in the file menu. The free Adobe Reader is available now for download at the company Web site. Acrobat 8.1 will be available later this month and will have the send option in the file menu.

"This is a great example of our strategy to provide customers with more points of access," said Richard Maranville, senior vice president and chief information officer of FedEx Kinko's, a division of the FedEx shipping and business services company. The partnership is aimed at making it more convenient for Adobe software users, many of them small and midsize businesses, to get documents printed.

"This [option] is going to be a much better workflow for them," he said.

FedEx Kinko's launched its Print Online application in October of last year, allowing users to upload files for printing and other services at FedEx Kinko's stores. The partnership integrates that service into Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format) software.

In terms of numbers and reach, Print Online has 133,000 registered users, while FedEx Kinko's has 1,600 total stores in 11 countries, with 200 opening in the last year and 300 more planned for the next 12 months, Maranville said. Adobe doesn't break down its user numbers by nation, but its Reader software is on more than a half a billion desktops worldwide, according to Michele Turner, Adobe vice president of product management and developer relations.

The partnership, which is new, had its genesis in discussions between FedEx Kinko's CEO Kenneth May and Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen. Chizen "had a lot of excitement and a lot of vision about exploring software as a service with FedEx Kinko's," Turner said.

After the two CEOs got revved up about the possibilities, their ideas for the first step in the partnership trickled down and about six months ago the software development for the Web services got rolling.

"It happened very, very quickly," Maranville said.

His team is confident that it is ready to handle the onslaught of PDFs that could come with the new option in Reader and Acrobat. Although the Web services pairing will initially be just for the U.S., expansion could be something the companies will contemplate in the future, he said.

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