I’ve been hearing some chatter that Apple is once again looking to sell its ProApps division – Final Cut Studio, Shake, etc. These rumors pop up from time to time. Back in 2000 reliable sources told me that Pinnacle (now owned by Avid) was close to striking a deal with struggling, pre-iPod Apple. The stumbling block that allegedly killed the deal was Apple’s insistence that FCP remain Mac-only for three years.
It’s plausible that Apple would be looking to unload a division that serves a relatively small market compared to iPods, iTunes, iMacs, and Apple TV, but the division remains a huge PR plum and Mr. Pixar sure loves the industry. I’d find it hard to believe Apple will find a buyer on its terms at a price it will find acceptable.
The latest rumor I’ve heard has Thomson very interested. Note: No current Thomson or Apple employee was the source of this rumor, so it’s what I’d classify Rumsfeld-quality intelligence. employee That might be a nice fit. At this stage, it’s just chatter. Something that I think about only to consider the effect such a move would have on my business. Almost half my work these days is done in FCP. Personally I’d hate to see Final Cut Studio leave the Apple fold. The ProApps have done a great job of keeping Avid and Adobe on their toes. Because Apple can justify its aggressive pricing somewhat due to the fact that Final Cut Studio helps sell some high end Macs and has PR value, it’s hard to imagine any potential buyer maintaining Apple’s pricing model.
Getting completely hypothetical here… Let’s say that the ProApps division is sold. What might some of the consequences be?
- Third party vendors such as AJA and Red may be a little less eager to hitch themselves to the new vendor as they have with Apple. When a vendor hooks on with Apple it gets the benefit of the Apple marketing machine. What potential buyer can match that? Will third party vendors continue to believe in Final Cut Studio’s growth, or will they fear stagnation and begin making contingency plans?
- A likely slow down in Final Cut development, and a possible price increase could give Avid, and Adobe to a lesser extent, some breathing room to raise margins a bit and justify more development expenditures.
It’s not that I really expect Apple to sell Final Cut and company. I don’t. But it’s probably time we stopped taking Final Cut’s aggressive development and pricing model for granted.