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Adobe Excludes Premiere Pro from Mac Platform

Company rep explains move as 'purely a business decision' By Dave Nagel
The big news this week in the world of video is Adobe's announcement of After Effects 6.0, Premiere Pro and a brand new Adobe Video Collection. But Mac video professionals don't get to share in all the joy, as Premiere Pro launches in the form of a Windows-only application and as the Adobe Video Collection is dropped from Adobe's list of Mac offerings. So what's going on? I had a chance to speak with David Trescot, senior director for the Adobe Digital Video Group, who explained the company's rationale behind its latest moves away from the Mac.

Adobe has always been a front-line developer for the Mac platform, providing professional-level tools for video, graphics, Web and print. But Adobe's commitment to the Mac market has faltered somewhat of late. Relations between Apple and Adobe seemed to grow strained when the two became competitors in the video editing market--Apple with iMovie and Final Cut Pro and Adobe with Premiere. (Later Apple introduced the midrange Final Cut Express NLE, which took direct aim at Premiere's market, and at a much lower price point.) This strain seemed to peak when, back in March, Adobe posted the now infamous "PC Preferred" article on its Web site, in which it used DMN's own benchmark studies to demonstrate that After Effects performed better on Intel-based systems than on PowerPC-based Mac hardware. (That article has since been removed from Adobe's site.)


On the application level, Adobe's Windows-only portfolio is growing. Aside from Premiere Pro, Adobe has also recently introduced other non-Mac applications for creative professionals, including its DVD authoring suite, Encore DVD, and a new audio application, Audition, which was also announced this week. Apple, of course, has its own DVD authoring applications (DVD Studio Pro and iDVD) and became well entrenched in the audio market with the purchase of Emagic, developer of Logic and other audio software.

According to Trescot, Adobe values its relationship with Mac users. But the company does see direct competition from Apple as a threat to its development investment. "For us, this is purely a business decision," Trescot said in an interview with DMN. "We like the Mac, but Apple currently has three [video] editing applications shipping.... It just didn't make sense for us to keep developing for the Mac when the Mac is well served by Apple."

So why After Effects for the Mac and not Premiere Pro? After all, Apple also has Shake, a high-end compositing system, which it acquired from Nothing Real in February 2002. Adobe's Trescot, however, said that Shake does not compete directly with After Effects, so Adobe can continue developing it for the Mac. And the codebase was already there for After Effects on Mac OS X. But Premiere Pro is a new application in the sense that it has been completely reengineered, so the jump from Premiere 6.5 to Premiere Pro would have been far more of an investment than the jump from After Effects 5.5 to After Effects 6.0.

But fair competition isn't Adobe's only concern, according to Trescot. He said it's conceivable that Apple could, at any time, make its pro applications available for free to boost sales of Mac hardware, which would cut third-party developers out of the picture entirely. Not that Apple has announced any plans to do so, but, he said, it's possible. And that's enough.

Meanwhile, where does this leave Mac users in Adobe's plans? Without an Adobe Video Collection, for one thing. The new bundle includes Premiere Pro, Encore DVD, Audition and After Effects, only one of which is available on the Mac. It's being offered in a standard version for $799. A Pro version, which also includes After Effects Pro 6.0 and Photoshop 7, is now selling for $1,499 (the same price as the previous version of the After Effects Production Bundle alone).

As for future development, Trescot wouldn't comment directly or give figures on Adobe's Mac customer base. However, in general, the Macintosh is the primary platform for slightly more than half of the total creative production market, according to DMN research. It's particularly strong in motion graphics, video editing, graphics, illustration and publishing. And, aside from the video editing category, Adobe does continue to support the Mac with applications like After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

At least for now.

In an offhand remark, I commented that I wished Adobe would reconsider bringing the bulk of its video tools to the Mac. Trescot responded, "And I wish Apple would reconsider ... competing with developers."

So clearly Adobe is sensitive about direct competition from Apple. And what the future holds for Adobe on the Mac may very well depend on Apple's next move.

For more on Adobe's announcement of After Effects 6.0, see our related story here. For more information on Adobe, visit http://www.adobe.com.


Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at dnagel@digitalmedianet.com.

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