As Ottawa-based Corel Corp. releases the latest versions of its photo editing and album software this month, it’s trying a different strategy: Not touting new features.“We’re moving away from the feature checklists battles of years gone by when it was always about the new bells and whistles a developer could layer in the product,” said Catherine Hughes, public relations manager for the Paint Shop Pro line.
“What we’re focused on, based on the input of our customers, is looking more at how we implement the features, how can we do things in an intelligent way so we can enhance the overall experience for the customer right out of the box.”
So the company put the emphasis in Paint Shop Pro X on new aids such as the Learning Centre, a menu of tools organized by groups which include step-by-step guides for accomplishing tasks. It also comes with a two-hour training DVD.
Corel is taking that strategy into a battle with two giants: Adobe and its year-old Elements 3.0, and Microsoft’s Digital Image Suite.
Overall retail sales of what the NPD Group calls home photo editing software are up 12 per cent here over last year, according to Darrel Ryce, a director of the market research company who specializes in the IT market.
However, Paint Shop has lost significant ground.
In the first seven months of 2004, Microsoft, Adobe and Corel were almost even in Canadian retail sales (which doesn’t include commercial purchases) with shares of 26, 25 and 21 per cent respectively.
But at the end of the same period this year Adobe had 42 per cent of sales, Microsoft had 27 per cent and Corel only 12 per cent.
Sales of PSP and Photo Album dropped 46 per cent, said Ryce.
Hughes had no comment, saying Corel only tracks NPD’s North American-wide figures.
Owned since 2003 by Vector Capital of San Francisco, Corel picked up Paint Shop when it bought Jasc Software last year.
It has been trying to broaden the product’s channel reach by, for example, bundling Paint Shop with Word Perfect in a small business suite, and partnering with PC manufacturers to carry the software.
Like all image editing software, Paint Shop Pro X is increasing the number of automated tools it comes with, including Smart Fix, which suggests setting corrections for colour, brightness, sharpness and saturation.
Other tools can automatically convert colour images to black and white infrared and correct scans of faded prints.
A new Object Remover tool lets users cut out unwanted pieces from photos as it fills in the gaps with what it believes is appropriate background.
Also included in the new version is Pixmantec RawShooter Essentials for those who shoot raw images.
Photo Album 6 for cataloging images, is included in the $174 PSP standard edition or is sold separately for $66.
Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst with Jupiter Research, says the software’s enhancements are incidental to how it’s positioned, “and that’s something Corel’s been good at.”