Adobe, ISVs Set To Tease Mac Market


Adobe is one of several ISVs set to give Apple a boost at the San Francisco conference, even as San Jose, Calif.-based software maker reiterated that the release of key products for the Intel-based Macintosh computers will come at about midyear.

On Thursday, Adobe said its next version of Adobe Production Studio will be available for both Mac and Windows platforms, and the company will demo the suite -- which includes Adobe Premiere, Adobe Encore and Adobe Soundbooth -- at Macworld. Last month, Adobe also released a public beta of Photoshop CS3 as a universal binary for the Mac, as well as for Windows.

The new Adobe software, which until now hasn't be optimized for Intel-based Macs, has been viewed by Apple executives as crucial to migrating the Cupertino, Calif., computer maker's installed base from G5 PowerPC-based systems. Apple VARs voiced excitement about the new software but said the wait for its release has kept some customers from upgrading their hardware.

"I do have friends in the recording industry in Nashville. They have a dozen [Macs with] G5s. They are definitely holding off until [Adobe's] editing software makes the hop, then they are going to want to get the latest hot rod," said Steve Lamb, owner of MacDoctor, a Winter Park, Fla.-based service provider and Apple dealer.

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While Lamb said sales have been muted to some extent as the Adobe transition takes place, he expects customers to respond positively once the applications are available for the Intel-based Macs. "They are going to be excited when the apps come out in universal mode," he said. "Then they'll get the punch they've been expecting for a long time."

Still, Adobe's public beta has helped perk up the market. Apple registered a 32 percent year-over-year gain in U.S. PC sales in during the third quarter of 2006, according to research firm IDC.

"I guess more than anything, when the public beta came out a couple of weeks ago, that confirmed there is going to be a nice performance bump," said Charlie Thomas, director of corporate sales at Tekserve, a New York-based Apple specialist. "I think people have looked at the capital expense of the new, higher-performance machines and have dialed it into their budgets."

The Mac market is still in the process of shifting not just to Intel's technology, but also to the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant's more frequent chip upgrade cycle, Thomas noted. "Instead of two upgrades per year, it's a three-plus upgrade per year cycle," he said. Mac customers seeking to upgrade to higher-end software may wait as long as they can to get the highest-performing hardware as well, he added.

"Adobe has done a great job on what I've seen of the new upgrade. It's going to firm up the Mac position even stronger," Thomas said.

News of software that allows Macs to run multiple platforms, notably Windows, also stands to boost the Apple channel, according to solution providers.

"It's very good for our business for the Mac to run Windows, and we get a fair amount of requests for that," said Steve Ide, owner of Cape Mac Computers, Falmouth, Mass. He estimates that 15 percent to 20 percent of those buying high-end Macs want Parallels or XenSource virtualization software to be able to run Windows on the machines. "That broadens the market for us. There are a lot of Windows-only type apps," Ide said.

Michael Oh, president and founder of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple specialist, concurred. "We get a reasonable number of requests for Windows on the Mac, mainly from customers who are 80 percent Mac, 20 percent PC and want to become 100 percent Mac. Running Windows on the Mac simplifies their network," Oh said.

At Macworld, VARs also expect Microsoft to highlight an upgrade for Office for the Mac and for that product to ship later this year.

"Mac Office is one of the two big non-Intel applications, the other being the Adobe suite," Oh said. "The fact that Microsoft will put a stake in the ground and say it's developing for Mac-Intel will be a big deal. Because it's Microsoft, everyone wonders if they're really aboard."

Sybase is slated to showcase a new version of its iAnywhere mobile database for Intel Macs. The product will enable users to have bidirectional synchronization between heterogeneous databases.

Quark, the Denver-based publishing software power, also is expected to boost its presence at the show this year, with new CEO Ray Schiavone meeting with the press and customers. Quark's flagship QPS publishing system doesn't yet run natively on Intel Macs, but such support is on the road map, a company spokesman said. Quark also is a Gold sponsor for the Mac Specialist reseller event and is slated to demonstrate the company's new Interactive Designer offering.