This past Monday, June 11, I was able to attend the Adobe CS6 Roadshow in Washington, DC. I spent the day in training sessions for editors considering a move from their current editing platform to Adobe’s offerings of Premiere Pro and After Effects, along with a whole slew of Final Cut Studio-like tools that come in the package.
The event was sponsored by HP, so it was not surprising that the day had a decidedly PC slant. There was much talk from the presenters about throughput, processing speeds, expandability, and performance. But when the first instructor asked for a show of hands from those of us who use PCs in our workflow, less than 10% of the hands went up.
Coincidentally, June 11 was also the day of Apple’s WWDC keynote, and Tim Cook and company spent several hours talking about their wildly successful lineup of Mac and iOS devices. The signature unveiling was the new MacBook Pro with a Retina Display, slimmer form factor, and a simplified design that removed the optical drive and many ports. The runner ups for the spotlight were OS X Mountain Lion and iOS, both of which show off some very nice features and move closer to each other in terms of look and feel.
What was not mentioned in the keynote was any improvement to Apple’s long-languishing Mac Pro desktop, whose current model is about to hit its second birthday. The rumor mill was fired up just prior to the event after some new model numbers for the Pro were leaked, prompting many to wrongly assume that big changes were coming. Instead, Apple quietly bumped the specs on the two year old model with slightly faster processors and adding a server configuration in the same form factor. The Mac Pro still stands alone as the only Mac without a Thunderbolt port.
After a day of training sessions at the Roadshow, I took a spin around the exhibitor hall to see what the vendors had to show. Most presentations were running on PCs (don’t forget who the event’s primary sponsor was) but virtually everyone working there had an iPad or a MacBook Pro behind the table with them for their use. That’s when it really hit me: many pros running Windows PCs do so because they have to, but use Macs because they want to.
And I would say that if you asked my fellow attendees, most would say they would want to be using a new Mac Pro to make their living. The irony here is that the Mac software at the high end has never been stronger. Autodesk just released the first Mac-only preview release of Smoke 2013, and both Avid and Adobe have bent over backwards to achieve feature parity for the Mac versions of Media Composer, Symphony, and Premiere Pro.
I see shades of last June in the headlines this week: Apple was expected to release something new for the professional market (last year it was FCP X, this year it was the Mac Pro), the “release” raises the ire of the faithful, and Apple backpedals slightly. This year the backpedaling comes in the form of an email from Tim Cook, who assures a customer that great things are coming for Apple desktop workstations…at the end of 2013.
Apple must truly believe that a slim portable or iMac with a Thunderbolt port really fits the need of almost everyone who uses a Mac, and they are buying themselves some time for the rest of us to realize that. As a result, Apple will probably lose an extremely small fraction of their user base, mostly comprised of people who bought their clunky (in retrospect) gear in the 90s in the hopes that Apple would stay afloat. At the same time their worldwide market share looks poised for more explosive growth. It’s Apple’s world now, and the pro market just lives in it.