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Apple. Pro App Killer?

COW Blogs : David Battistella's Blog : Apple. Pro App Killer?
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I read a great commentary by Marco Solorio a day ago in his blog. He made some great arguments a laid out a detailed history of how Apple bought and then killed apps like Shake and others.

It got me thinking. There are two key points here. The people who developed those applications maybe looked to sell the apps probably for two main reasons.

Reason 1: recover software development costs.
Reason 2: their existing customer base was maxed out as was their capacity to continue to receive a return on investment from customers.

Apple is not in the "save great software" business, but they are interested in core technologies they do not have. It makes sense for them to buy software for core technology.

Shake us a great example of a very high end app with a lot of power but a very small customer base tied to software with a steep learning curve. (I bought hours of shake training to learn it properly). But it had the optical flow engine that could find it's way into Compressor, motion and FCP making previously hard to access powerful tools accessible.

I respect Marco a great deal and I really enjoyed reading his blog post, but did any of those companies go running to their customers and say "Help! Apple is knocking on our door wanting to buy our software". I'm not sure, just putting it out there.

The amount of good, creative freedom and accessible high end tools Apple has delivered and made available to professionals is possibly unequalled in the industry.

Apple buying those companies helped save important core technologies that found their way into other products. I could look at what Apple did and call it "gutting" but the other perspective is that I am sure those Applications were purchased at a good dollar value for the developer and in the end we (end users) still benefit from the core technology.

Sometimes I think this is nostalgia. I get nostalgic about things. I like film. I like records. I like the old way of doing things. But I don't like to get nostalgic about software because it's pretty tenuous stuff.


David

Posted by: David Battistella on Jun 29, 2011 at 11:37:38 amComments (2) FCP, opinion
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Re: Blog: Apple. Pro App Killer?
by Walter Soyka
[David Battistella] "Apple is not in the "save great software" business, but they are interested in core technologies they do not have. It makes sense for them to buy software for core technology. Shake us a great example of a very high end app with a lot of power but a very small customer base tied to software with a steep learning curve. (I bought hours of shake training to learn it properly). But it had the optical flow engine that could find it's way into Compressor, motion and FCP making previously hard to access powerful tools accessible. "

I don't think Apple bought Nothing Real to get Shake's optical flow technology (which I'd guess they could have licensed much cheaper from Nothing Real themselves, or The Foundry, or Re:Vision FX). If they just wanted Shake's optical flow, I doubt they would have spent the resources to develop several utilitarian updates.

I think they bought Nothing Real for the cachet -- something they could wave in front of professionals to demonstrate their commitment to the professional market. Once Shake was an Apple product, they promoted its use in King Kong with missionary zeal. I'd argue that they marketed Shake itself to serious FCP users, tempting them with siren song of doing cool, cutting-edge feature-quality work, rather than hard-core compositing markets who would have been more likely to purchase it (if they somehow weren't using it already).

Read Ron Brinkmann's blog entry "X vs. Pro" [link] for an insider's perspective on the acquisition and positioning of Shake.

My conclusion from all this is that Apple's strategy on the professional markets has swung around quite wildly; I think they were very serious about the pro market in the early 2000s, but I think the shine came off very quickly for them.


[David Battistella] "It got me thinking. There are two key points here. The people who developed those applications maybe looked to sell the apps probably for two main reasons.
Reason 1: recover software development costs.
Reason 2: their existing customer base was maxed out as was their capacity to continue to receive a return on investment from customers."


It could be any of dozens of reasons: maybe to get the resources to take the product to the next level, or maybe to collect a nice payout for the hard work they put in developing their product, or maybe to be free to move on to the next big project. There are many reasons to sell a healthy company.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events
@Apple. Pro App Killer?
by Mike Cohen
If memory serves, Photoshop, Premiere and After Effects all started out being made by not Adobe - same with Flash for that matter. Adobe put together the components of their company with products initially developed by other companies.
So what Apple has done is not so different. However the leadership at Apple is obviously skewed towards the consumer, whereas Adobe seems interested in the enthusiast and the "pro."
Mike Cohen



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