09
Feb
08

No Apple or Avid at NAB-08.

applenab.jpg

In an interesting move, Apple has pulled out of NAB as reported from various sources and confirmed by Television Broadcast. This move follows Avid’s recent announcement of their non-participation in the annual broadcaster / media / technology expo in Las Vegas.

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Was it because Avid was not there, Apple didn’t feel a need to be there?

An Apple spokesperson said, “It’s true that we won’t have a booth at NAB. Apple is participating in fewer trade shows every year, because often there are better ways for us to reach our customers.”

Is Adobe next on the list as a no-show to the biggest US expo for the television and radio industry?

While none of the major electronics manufacturers have bowed out, the absence of the two companies who nearly dominate the non-linear post production world is quite interesting.

 

nabfloor.jpg

Avid once ruled the broadcast and film post-production, non-linear world. But Apple’s Final Cut Pro, Adobe’s Premiere, Sony’s Vegas and other non-linear solutions have completely changed the post production market. So in November of 2007, Avid announced:

“We are always evaluating the most effective ways to build closer relationships with our customers and keep pace with the ever-changing media market. Over the past few months, we’ve been collecting data from all of our constituents, and the findings have been clear – we need to connect with users in new ways,”

said Graham Sharp, vice president and general manager of Avid’s Video division. 

The company said it would reveal the full details of its 2008 plan to the public in February, which will set the stage for a blitz of new user-community initiatives, technical support programs, highly-personalized events, and innovative product announcements throughout the year.

If one of the major competitors bows our from the media exposure, does it hurt Apple to do the same? Probably not. But Adobe, Sony and numerous others are still there in spades, so it’s not like there’s no competition left.

 Frank Capria postulates in a PVC article:

Sony, Panasonic, Harris, Quantel, JVC, and Autodesk surely don’t enjoy cutting multi-million dollar checks for trade shows, but none have found a better model.
It’s hard to believe Avid has stumbled upon it.
avidnab.jpg
Avid’s absence at NAB will look like surrender to key constituencies.

Now for both Avid and Apple.

Scott Gentry adds:

Print magazines have gone from thick (2002) to pamphlets as of recently.  Tradeshows from very, very large, to a fraction of their size.  The vendor community is really cutting back.  Let’s hope the innovation and R&D;continue, at Apple and elsewhere.

But what if Apple had something else afoot?

Insiders and the well connected have known for some time that no big announcements had been slated for NAB. Rumors regarding the future of Apple’s ProApps and Avid abound. Word on the street is that Apple has been shopping ProApps around since late last summer, and a deal was close last fall. Now such rumors have reached a fevered pitch, with ProApps apparently sold with all but the final announcement to be made. Potential buyers include Thompson, which has been on an acquisition spree of late, and would love to add an industrial strength NLE to its newsroom offerings.

As interesting as this speculation is, what would it say to other software companies, like Adobe and even Apple itself, who are acquiring applications to put into their portfolio, what would it say if Apple divested itself of it’s software. Would it say that Apple no longer believes in making software for Macintosh computers? Would it say that Apple no longer is getting enough ROI from the software? Would it demonstrate a lack of faith in the Macintosh platform as a whole?

No. Apple has long made applications that made the Macintosh useful. Given the small market share, and extremely heavy centering around entertainment production, the thought that Apple would sell off the Pro Apps- the core reason most Mac users buy the hardware- just doesn’t make sense.  

Moreover, think of the company that buys it. Some of Apple’s Pro Apps- Final Cut Studio, and specifically Final Cut Pro, started life running in Windows. adobe-premiere-pro-cs3.gifThat’s why their interface completely breaks Apple’s interface guidelines. Now those Pro Apps are Intel Native- i.e. potentially easy to recompile into PC applications with much, much larger market share. Would a company that buys it be more interested in the Pro Apps for Macintosh, or in what they could do with the code if they made it into products for the Windows OS. There’s a lot more revenue to be had there. 

Remember, Adobe took Premiere, which started life on a Mac, and completely ditched the mac Platform for many years. It was only with the move to Intel Processors (and probably a lot of closed-door wooing) that Premiere returned to the Mac. Avid, too, at one point roundaboutly annouced it was leaving the Macintosh- the platform that gave birth to it. 

So would Apple stir these waters again by selling off the industry competition that helps it sell machines, and I mean, lots of machines?

Frank Capria says:

Apple’s ProApps have changed the post industry. The $60,000 NLE is a thing of the past for all but the largest facilities. Final Cut Pro lowered the barrier to entry to professional editing. We can argue the merits of lower prices and increased competition, but the change in the industry has been profound and is permanent.

Here, I think Frank misses the mark. When you read articles about feature film editors and special effects studios using Apple’s tools, it’s never with a $599 Mac Mini. No. It’s with a big-ass, tricked out system, or several of them:

walter_murch_fcp.jpgCullen worked with Digital Film Tree to set up four FCP workstations and a workflow for the Cold Mountain project…

That configuration consisted of four Apple Power Mac G4 dual-gigahertz workstations running Final Cut Pro 3.0.2, including Apple’s Cinema Tools and DVD Studio Pro software. All four systems ran on Aurora Video Systems’ IgniterRT 311 video capture/edit cards.

One workstation was used solely for Murch’s editing work, a second was devoted exclusively to Cullen’s work, a third was used as a digitizing station, and a fourth to export media, with two of the computers also used to burn DVD dailies.

We had 1.2 terabytes of storage (on Seagate drives) through our (Galaxy 60 fiber-channel SAN from Rorke Data). 

So, several computers, and several complete sets of software, Igniter cards, fibre channel cards, cinema displays, and a whole lot more. Does Apple want to let their software package go and be recompiled to sell PCs instead of Macs?

 

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I don’t think so.

Professional studios, instead of buying one Avid, now buy several Final Cut Studio workstations. The hardware (and software) sales have multiplied.

Apple may have pulled out of NAB, but I don’t think they’ve pulled out of the video business.
It’s just too profitable.  

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4 Responses to “No Apple or Avid at NAB-08.”


  1. February 9, 2008 at 10:09 am

    I don’t think Frank missed the mark completely. Sure there’s still a LOT of huge installations of FCP systems and Apple hardware but for every one big one there has to be tens of hundreds of small ones. Not a Mac Mini but a G5 or Mac Pro with a AJA card (or DV deck) that buys upgrades on a regular basis. It’s really scary to think about Apple selling all this stuff as so many people make their living on these tools today.

  2. February 9, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Actually, the code base for all the Pro Apps is 100% OS X. Since it was recompiled to MachO it has had no Windows code at all. It would take a complete rewrite to make FCP a Windows app again. The other apps have never had any Windows code and would be a complete rewrite and difficult as they are built on OS X Frameworks that don’t exist in Windows.

    Bottom line I agree – Apple have pulled out of the NAB *Show Floor* not Video. Avid will still have a big Vegas presence and I expect Apple to do the same. This has been done before – Sony didn’t go on the show floor for a number of years – displaying in a nearby hotel.

    Philip

  3. 3 Jon
    February 9, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I don’t know why there is so much speculation on this. Apple doesn’t need NAB to market their products. Anything even remotely Apple-related gets hyperlinked throughout the internet. All they need is a press-release on their site that costs them $0 and everyone else will do their marketing for free.

    Avid, however, does not have this luxury. I think Avid is doing an Intel – when your competitor overtakes you, just quietly keep your head down and work on improving your product, and only raise your head when you have something to show. What remains to be seen is if they can perform an Intel-style comeback (probably not).


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