How Mighty Software Giants Fall

It's hard to overstate how dominant QuarkXPress was in the publishing world, and in design education anyone suggesting we teach students to use anything else was on a hiding to nothing (I remember similar battles over desktop video editing). There are lessons to be learned from this tale.

As the big dog of desktop publishing in the '80s and '90s, QuarkXPress was synonymous with professional publishing. In fact, it was publishing. But its hurried and steady decline is one of the greatest business failures in modern tech.

Quark's demise is truly the stuff of legend. In fact, the story reads like the fall of any empire: failed battles, growing discontent among the overtaxed masses, hungry and energized foes, hubris, greed, and... uh, CMYK PDFs. What did QuarkXPress do—or fail to do—that saw its complete dominance of desktop publishing wither in less than a decade? In short, it didn’t listen.