Web publishing helps Adobe double revenue in LatAm

An explosion in Web-site creation in Latin America has boosted Adobe Systems Inc.’s sales in the region by about 100 per cent in fiscal year 2000 compared with 1999, but piracy continues to dog this maker of publishing software.

“All the major corporations, government agencies and educational institutions are creating and enhancing their Web sites, and that’s fueling Adobe’s overall business in Latin America,” said Bruce Chizen, the company’s president, in a roundtable discussion on Monday at Adobe’s Latin America headquarters in Miami.

Still, Adobe estimates that four out of five of its products in use in the region are illegal copies. To address the situation, the company is modifying its licensing terms to make them more attractive. It is also working with the industry watchdog group Business Software Alliance to monitor and to educate consumers, Chizen said. The company also appointed in July an anti-piracy manager for Latin America.

“One of the main challenges we face in Latin America is piracy,” Chizen said.

The company is also keeping a close eye on the development of high-speed networks in Latin America and on the adoption of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones that can connect wirelessly to the Internet. High-speed networks and Web-enabled devices are key to Adobe’s plan to retool its software products to meet the market’s rising demand to publish content anytime, anywhere in any type of device, something Adobe calls “network publishing,” Chizen said.

“Some of the challenges we face in Latin America are: How quickly does the infrastructure come into place? How quickly do high-speed networks become available? How quickly are a variety of devices such as PDAs and Web-enabled phones adopted? I think it’s a matter of time, and that it will vary country by country. But there’s too many major players with too much money for it to lag too far.”

Although happy with the revenue growth in Latin America, the expected US$20 million in revenue from the region in fiscal year 2000, which ends in early December, only accounts for about two per cent of the company’s total revenue, a percentage Adobe wants to see increased.

“(Our Latin America revenue) should be and could be and will be a lot greater,” Chizen said, adding that in 2001, Adobe is expecting revenue in the region to grow about 50 per cent.

The company has a staff of seven people in its Miami office, two salespeople in M