Adobe Systems, Inc. has announced its next generation of Web-based software: Acrobat for Web Server package will provide online, PDF-formatted documents that can be digitally signed and transmitted electronically.
For many years, Adobe's well-known product, Adobe Acrobat, has allowed the "reader" portion of its Portable Document Format (PDF) software to be downloaded and installed free from Adobe's Internet Web site, enabling document senders to transmit electronic documents in read-only format that can be printed by the receiver as original documents. However, finalizing the documents with signatures has always been a separate process and an extra step, with executed documents needing to be faxed back or returned to the original sender by expedited courier or mail. Adobe estimates that nearly 400 million computers worldwide have installed Adobe's free Acrobat Reader, but in order to "write" to PDF documents (create them and/or modify them), users must purchase a full software version of Adobe Acrobat for each computer that "writes," which retails for approximately $250 US.
Adobe's new software package, Acrobat for Web server, allows for online digital signatures that are transmitted electronically, so that the entire transaction occurs and is completed online. However, unlike its "free" cousin, Acrobat Reader, Acrobat for Web server will retail at prices beginning at $20,000 US. Adobe reportedly plans to begin selling its new Acrobat for Web server before the end of 2002 to government agencies and businesses. According to Bruce Chizen, Adobe's Chief Executive, "This is going to enable all kinds of transactions online that weren't possible before. Everything from contracts to tax forms can be signed online with Adobe's new product."