SAN FRANCISCO – Adobe Systems Inc. today launched its popular Acrobat software in a new direction aimed at increasing the use of the Internet to fill out contracts, tax forms and other key documents.
With the move, San Jose-based Adobe will put its fully loaded Acrobat package on Web servers that will be licensed to businesses and government agencies.
The buyers then can use the Acrobat Web servers to unlock all of the software package’s applications, including the ability to sign a document with a digital signature, for their customers.
The Acrobat Reader, which Adobe gives away, is already widely available and is commonly used to transfer documents electronically. An estimated 400 million computers worldwide have the program.
But the Acrobat Reader doesn’t include the power to produce digital signatures or add annotations, limitations that have retarded its use for online business.
Individuals who wanted all of Acrobat’s features currently must pay a suggested retail price of $249 for the desktop version.
That high price tag meant businesses and government agencies couldn’t expect visitors to their Web site to have the tools necessary to fill out electronic forms such as mortgage applications and insurance policies.
“This is going to enable all kinds of transactions online that weren’t possible before,” Bruce Chizen, Adobe’s chief executive, predicted in an interview. “It will encourage more electronic transactions.”
The new server product is expected to be particularly popular among banks, insurance companies and government agencies that traditionally require heavy paperwork.