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.