TL; DR: You might not have heard of Foxit Software, but you’ve almost certainly used the company’s technology. Powering the PDF tools of Google and Amazon, among other well-known consumer brands, Foxit packs high-performing functionalities into small packages to provide a robust platform for end users, developers, and enterprise organizations. Vice President of Marketing Frank Kettenstock walked us through the various levels of services the company provides, along with Foxit’s drive to reimagine the PDF.
When most think of software for working with PDF documents, Adobe Reader and Acrobat naturally come to mind first — but the world’s second-largest PDF company is quickly gaining ground with strong partnerships with companies, including Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.
Aiming to serve end users, developers, and enterprise organizations, Foxit Software provides programs to create, edit, and manage the digital documents. The company’s products range from a free PDF reader to server programs and software development kits, or SDKs.
The range of resources has contributed to Foxit’s reputation for providing robust functionality and performance in an efficient, easy-to-use interface, according to Vice President of Marketing Frank Kettenstock. The solutions appeal to large companies looking to integrate Foxit technology into their products.
“From very small companies developing apps for mobile devices to some of the most well-known brands in the world, a lot of organizations incorporate our SDK technology into their products,” he said. “A lot of people might not have heard of us, but probably more than a billion people have used our technology in some form.”
Foxit Programs Add Functionality to Third-Party Applications
Foxit attracts many of its top customers by licensing its technologies to third-party application developers and device manufacturers. Google, for example, uses Foxit programs for PDF support in Chrome, Gmail, and the Android and Chromium open-source projects.
Other major customers include Evernote, NASDAQ, and Amazon, which deploys Foxit for the company’s Kindle devices.
“These companies are supporting millions and millions of all sorts of different types of PDF files,” Frank said. “They choose us for our robustness and how we can handle all of those edge cases.”
Foxit earned its first revenue by licensing a software development kit. The low-level API enables developers to build advanced PDF viewing and editing functionality into cross-platform software. The company also offers SDKs and rapid development kits for mobile and web applications, along with tools specifically for ActiveX and .NET.
Enterprise-Scale Solutions Automate Processes and Protect Data
For large-scale companies that receive hundreds or thousands of documents each day, Foxit offers server software to automate PDF management. Often, according to Frank, these companies need to scan hard copies of documents or receive image files through their fax server.
Foxit’s Rendition Server integrates into the company’s infrastructure to convert the image files to PDFs and run them through an optical character recognition system, which recognizes text and makes the documents searchable.
“Those image files take up a huge amount of disc space,” Frank said. “It’s expensive, and they’re hard to share. We have some of the best file compression and make these documents so much more usable.”
Productivity Apps Help End Users Interact With PDFs
The largest part of Foxit’s business, according to Frank, centers around end-user productivity.
“We’re really seeing a lot of innovation in this space,” he said. “Here we have web services, mobile apps, and desktop programs that help knowledge workers who produce documents and author information, as well those who consume the documents.”
1. PhantomPDF: Create, Review, Edit, and Manage With the Premium Editor
Beyond regular editing capabilities, Foxit added design and layout tools to its premium PDF editor, PhantomPDF. Modeled to compete with — and outperform — Adobe Acrobat, Frank said the added value streamlines an organization or user’s workflow.
“Most documents are living and get updated all the time,” he said. “You can now do that right in the PDF, without having to go through all sorts of steps and software with word processing, editing, and layouts. With PhantomPDF, you don’t have to go through all those steps and involve so many people.”
2. Foxit Reader: Free Reader Packs Power in a Small Footprint
The company’s free alternative to Adobe Reader, Foxit Reader, boasts about 450 million downloads. The familiar, easy-to-use interface is based on Microsoft Office, and the program enables users to create PDFs from multiple sources, provide feedback and ideas, along with sharing files through various cloud platforms.
“Part of our traction is that robustness, where we’ll open all these PDFs in a very small and very fast program,” Frank said. “It’s probably, without question, the most feature-rich PDF reader in the business. You get a lot for free.”
3. MobilePDF: Share Documents From Anywhere
For end users who are frequently on the move, Foxit’s MobilePDF is available for Android, iOS, and Windows devices. The app operates similarly to Foxit Reader, allowing users to provide feedback through annotation tools and share files through cloud providers, including Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
“It’s all the same codebase, which goes everywhere and helps us be more efficient,” Frank said. “If we make an improvement on one platform, it’s fixed on all products, whether it’s a Linux server, Windows desktop, or iOS or Android mobile device.”
Next-Generation ConnectedPDF™ Gives Users More Control
Last year, Foxit debuted what the company considers revolutionary technology for PDF management, Frank said. ConnectedPDF coordinates team members who collaborate on a document while securely protecting the PDF.
“It’s a cross between an information rights management security solution and a content management system, but it’s a lot cheaper and easier to deal with and manage,” Frank said.
Users can allocate access rights and track who has opened or made changes to the document. ConnectedPDF can alert teams to updated versions of the PDF, in addition to making previous versions available by request.
The functionalities, which are integrated with PhantomPDF, Foxit Reader, and MobilePDF, also enable administrators to revoke access to a PDF, even if the document is saved to a personal computer or device.
“That’s the reality of today’s world,” Frank said. “Files get downloaded and distributed, but you’ve still got to control the access to them. This is a different way of looking at security, which we think is more relevant to the modern world and the way we share information.”