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By Pixated
September 4, 2001

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So, as silly as he may appear to many, Ballmer is right. It is developers, developers and developers who will determine the future of Apple as a company. It isn't advertising, and it isn't the two button mouse.

Today, the hardware is the smaller part of the cost of setting up a working system. One can spend many times the hardware cost on software, especially if it has to be developed. So the key need for Apple is to get developers to think that the Mac is a viable platform and worthy of spending the time and dollars to develop products for it. Of course, it will help if there are more of them in use.


Ditto on Apps not meeces.

I would go so far as to say it isn't even a question of cost. It's a question of options. If you need a certain application to do your work, and it's only available for one platform, you'll buy that platform, even if you've already got the other. RP Guillory for example, bought the Spruce DVD authoring solution (Windows) just before Apple came out with theirs and also before they bought out Spruce, (effectively eliminating the top competition in the DVD authoring space at the same time Apple became #1)

It used to be that there were many best of breed software applications that kept people in the Mac fold,... Photoshop, AVID, Premiere, After Effects, Quark Express, and so on, but slowly most of these applications became cross-platform and some were on the verge of becoming PC only, notably AVID. At the same time fewer apps that were PC only were ported to Macintosh. What has happened though, since Steve Jobs has come back, is that the tide has turned. Maybe only a little but it has turned.

AVID is no longer considering dumping the Mac.

Lightwave which was originally Amiga, then PC has been ported to the Mac and also to OS X. Maya is soon to be available for OS X. Lightwave is the "most used" 3D application in Hollywood and Maya is the "top off the shelf" 3D application available.

Apple has entered the development environment itself and created it's own small list of best of breed applications; not only iTunes, iMovie and iDVD but also in the Pro space with Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro and Powerschool.

It used to be that every time a "Mac only" app went PC "somebody" could say,... "Well now there is no reason to buy a Mac, and my first person shooter is PC and NVidia cards rock and they don't make 'em for Mac." Or something like that.

The thing is, when people talk about an "OS" and a "platform" they're generally used interchangeably and I don't think that's really right. After all, QuickTime is a platform, and it's not an OS. Java is a platform independent platform/OS but too, what about looking at Desktop Publishing or Audio the thing that makes these two things difficult to penetrate is that the number of applications and plug-ins that dovetail together is rather large. The whole work flow thing is established.

That's why Apple's core markets are so strong, that's why Microsoft's core markets are so strong. Apple doesn't need to penetrate Window's core markets yet, if ever. Apple does need to protect it's own core markets reestablish "the platform" as unassailable in the core markets, if possible, and penetrate those new markets which fit, and 3D would be a plum.

I think that's exactly what they are doing or attempting to do. Further, by putting out something like DVD Studio Pro in conjunction with DVD writing capability, ... not only are they extending the capability of a Macintosh based video production shop, they're also maybe simultaneously putting out of business a PC DVD authoring shop or at least making life a whole lot tougher for them.

3D used to be one of the last strongholds of SGI but the PC running Windows and Linux has made pretty big inroads there. With OS X Apple has the ability to move into 3D in a big way. The biggest reason being that a whole lot of the software is already Unix and most editing is already done on Macs, so these are Mac people, in my experience the people who use SGIs for 3D are completely comfortable on the Mac as well as SGI. The reverse is not true.

If Maya and Lightwave and so on will run just as well on a Mac as a PC or SGI and everything else in the production work flow is on the Mac, ... the whole PC erosion network effect starts to work for the Macintosh instead of against it.

So what?

Autodesk just bought a bunch of software from Media 100,... because they want a cross-platform solution. Translation: they want a Macintosh product. They bought Cinestream/Edit DV, Terran Cleaner 5, and the Wired MPEG 2 encoder hardware.

Hey, why would Autodesk makers of AutoCAD want video editing stuff?

They've already got it. They bought Discreet a while ago. Discreet makes Edit an excellent video editing application (around $35k for a system and up) but they also make 3D apps, excellent ones. Hollywood already hires architects to design sets in 3D and then they render them often using Pixar's Renderman and often into QuickTime movies, that's the workflow, they don't build them anymore, they're digital sets (they may build parts).

It's complicated but the basics are simple. Conceptually what happens in terms of integration on the low end also happens on the high end. You want to add features functionality you have to add something. Maya just added 3D paint, look out Adobe.

Applications will add functionality that blur the lines between disciplines. Some disciplines will disappear completely. Some will expand their scope absorbing and/or merging with others.

It's at least as important that Apple choose the right applications to dominate as it is that they choose the right hardware, FireWire, 802.11 and so on. Probably more so, because ultimately the applications do the work. What's great about Apple under Steve is that they are providing total solutions. End to end solutions which combine hardware and software. They're going out and buying the software when necessary and integrating it in a way nobody else can to dominate a field of endeavor.

I'd like to see them dominate a couple others too, but so long as it's only one right now, I'm glad it's mine.

Pix