May 25, 2010

Nitro PDF Software Aims To Battle Adobe

Nitro PDF Software released a free reader on Tuesday built to break rival Adobe System's grip on the world's top digital document format.

Nitro not only allows people to read paperwork scanned in Portable Document Format (PDF), but it also allows it to be annotated, filled-in, or otherwise altered and then saved as files.

Adobe's free reader lets people see and print digitized documents without editing them, a restriction that can foil efforts of someone trying to tamper with an online PDF form or file.

Adobe sells premium versions of PDF software that allows document creation.

"Adobe hasn't adapted the product to how people have evolved in working with PDF files," Lonn Lorenz, who worked at Adobe for a decade before becoming Nitro chief product officer in 2009, told AFP News.

"The fact that Adobe hasn't done it just doesn't make sense. We hear from people that they have no love for Adobe Reader; we want people to have a lot of love for Nitro Reader."

Nitro PDF Reader is available for download at nitroreader.com.

Nitro was marketed to readers as more secure than Adobe software during a time that booby-trapping PDF files have been seen as a prime method of attack by hackers.

Symantec recently reported that the number of PDF files tainted with malicious code skyrocketed in 2009 to represent 49 percent of Web-based attacks, topping the category.

"One of the big things about Adobe Reader is how vulnerable it is," Lorenz told AFP.

Nitro security features include letting users block access to selected websites, lock files with passwords, and turn off Java Script technology exploited by hackers to execute attacks.

Nitro Reader also allows people to scan signatures into computers and add them into PDF documents.

"The whole point is to enable users to get the work done and move on," Lorenz told AFP. "This stuff is a no-brainer but no one else has done it."

Nitro sells professional PDF software that competes with Adobe, but the reader released Tuesday is the first free offering that allows users to do more than just read and print files.

"We saw a big hole in the market," Nitro senior vice president of sales and marketing Gina O'Reilly told AFP "There was nobody else offering free, powerful, no-strings-attached tools for PDF functionality."

Nitro is hoping that a percentage of its fans that download its free Reader will purchase an upgrade to a professional version that the firm sells for $99.

"No one has offered functionality to work with PDF without a catch; until now," O'Reilly told AFP. "Adobe Reader is one of those things people just have to put up with. That is something we want to turn on its head."

The battle against Adobe Reader comes during a time that Adobe faces a battle with its Flash video software against Apple.

A public feud between the companies has included Apple chief executive Steve Jobs calling out the flaws he sees in the software, giving reason to why Apple does not support Flash in its iPhone, iPad and iPod devices.

"It does give me a bit of a smile," Lorenz said of taking on Adobe on the PDF front. "But we just wanted a PDF reader that people want to use, it just works. The fact that Adobe hasn't done it just doesn't make sense to users."

According to the 10-year-old San Francisco firm, Nitro Reader for English debuts globally on Tuesday, with versions tailored for other languages coming "hot on its heels."


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