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Re: Interesting NLE speculation

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Tim Wilson
Re: Interesting NLE speculation
on Oct 26, 2016 at 5:55:41 pm

I don't think that the word "dominate" makes any sense in the context of NLEs anymore. I don't think it has for years, actually. Maybe never did.

First, there's the question of dominate what. We've already been through this a million times here. My favorite example is Avid dominating film and high-end TV. Yes, they have for 15+ years. Yes, they still do. Yes, they will for a long time forward. AND? SO WHAT?

Second, "dominate" implies that selling large numbers of one thing will preclude any sales of another thing. That can certainly be the case -- "I own one NLE, I will therefore not buy another" -- but in practice, not really. It's easy enough to buy one, or download a couple of free ones, that checking out the new one is almost the default. And even for day to day use, thousands of people here use more than one NLE on a regular basis. Even on a single project.

So, apart from a market definition so narrow that "dominance" of it is meaningless, more broadly, the ship for domination has sailed. It can't happen in any world that we (or the theoretical future "we") live in.

Third, the notion of a dominant NLE doesn't say anything meaningful about the rest of the software ecosystem. After Effects is still After Effects. Resolve is still Resolve. They continue to extend their reach, as do some other folks who aspire to nibble along the edges (Affinity and the like).

But sticking with AE and Resolve because of the scale on which they MATTER, and which those products will MATTER to the NLE market as a whole, no matter what happens with any NLE, neither Apple nor any other company (including Adobe and Blackmagic) can dominate in a way that means anything worth talking about.

And no matter what's happening on the desktop, anyone watching the industry and failing to see a resurgent Quantel, a booming Baselight, a stampeding Mistika, and yes, good old Autodesk ascending again, is simply not paying attention. Yes, cheap and free desktop software options are multiplying faster than bunnies, but the high end is BOOMING.

Fourth, it implies that the market is defined by Apple. Nope. Apple isn't even the only OS provider in this very forum, although here, I'm certainly willing to concede its dominance. In the NLE market as a whole, though, not even close. Between the OS insights we have from folks browsing the COW, and watching product registrations at multi-platform companies like Avid and Boris, I've had a front row seat to demographics for over 20 years.

(I was actually at Boris when they started a licensing deal with Apple to be included with every unit of FCP. The details were NDA'd out the wazoo, but there was money changing hands, and I assure you, NO ambiguity about how many units were moving. WIth something like two dozen host applications across both Mac and Win, it was a lot of fun to watch.)

Sure, Mac is more popular in video/film/motion graphics/creative arts than many other sectors, but it's simply not dominant. It's just not.

And in fairness, Apple has never given the least indication that this is a goal. Good for them! Because if it were a goal, they'd have to be marked as one of recent business history's colossal failures.

Given that Apple hasn't made OS dominance a goal, then, it's not a criticism to observe that they haven't achieved it, or anything even resembling it.

So, since we're talking about a market too broad to dominate, that's disinclined to singular choices, and not in any way dominated by Apple as an OS provider, what the hell is that guy even talking about?

[Bob Zelin] "Because NOW - everyone can take a really good picture, and for many of us, it's "good enough". "

That's the one place where he's almost onto something. The battle for photo editing software isn't being fought between Adobe, Affinity, and Apple (I'm counting on one of you to tell me if Apple is even in this game anymore), or even Google -- it's between Instagram and Snapchat.

I'm seeing a lot of high-end profoessional digital cameras (Canon, Nikon, et al) now using some combination of wifi, bluetooth, and NFC to allow photos to transfer to phones for Instagramming, tweeting, and other immediate social media uploads -- and using these features myself, I have to tell you that the combination of "real" photography with Instagram is both compelling and a lot of fun.

I still ain't giving up Photoshop, but that's partly out of habit from using it every day since 1991. Back when it was Mac only. ?

Which brings me to my last point. Finally. ?

Nobody playing for keeps is playing on Mac alone. Nobody.

And nobody knows this better than Apple.

Their fortunes didn't change with iPod in 2003. Their fortunes changed with the introduction of iTunes for Windows in 2004, almost to the day -- because that's when iPod became available to everyone. iPod for Mac users? Yawn. iPod for all? NOW you have my attention.

To put it another way, the lesson of iPod is that ALL of Apple's most important software products are outside the Mac-only ecosystem, because that's where most of Apple's customers are.

That's why there's never been an iPhone commercial with a Mac in it. Why risk turning off the overwhelming majority of your current and potential customers with the idea that they need to buy a new computer to get the most out of their devices? If you already HAVE a Mac, true. But if you don't, it's just not true in any meaningful way whatsoever.

If it was, than Apple's representation in desktop and device operating systems would be more similar, when they couldn't be more different.

Not that Apple's going to stop selling computers, or that they haven't prioritized converting new OS customers based on compelling iExperiences. No way, and you bet, respectively.

But let's add this observation to the string, which now goes a little like this:

Our market is beyond domination, the idea of dominance is irrelevant in practice, Apple hasn't attempted to dominate with its OS, AND NONE of Apple's most important software development has been Mac-only.

So c'mon. Not speaking about what any future Apple NLE does, or what previously-cherished metaphors it torches, or what amazing new things it enables -- but enough already with the idea that Apple is going to do anything with any future NLE to change anything that's true about Apple and NLEs in general now.

That is, it's ridiculous to write off Apple as incapable of changing any game they're playing, but it's ridiculous to think that this is one of those games.

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