Beyond the Barline
The Other Petition
Is it just me, or has Apple been ticking a lot of people off lately? By now you certainly know about their unveiling of .Mac, with its $99 yearly price tag and the termination of iTools come September 30th. A petition is already online, demanding, at the least, continuation of basic e-mail at a greatly reduced price. September 30th is a significant date for another group as well, though. For once, Apple has actually found a way to shaft Windows users.
On July 1st, Apple announced its acquisition of Emagic, the manufacturer of Logic Audio sequencing and multitracking software, along with a number of hardware audio interfaces and controllers. I saw this as encouraging news. The development of MIDI and audio applications for OS X has been glacial so far. I was beginning to doubt Apple’s commitment to a very important part of their installed base. Emagic, meanwhile, has been postponing their OS X versions of Logic for almost a year. (At last year’s Macworld New York, the company said September, and they have been backpedaling ever since.) Now, with Emagic in house, I’m hopeful that the delays will finally end, and an OS X version of Logic will hit the shelves before the year is out.
There was another, more sinister, part of Apple’s announcement. Emagic is a cross-platform manufacturer, and versions of Logic are available for both Mac and PC. Their customers split about 2 to 1 in favor of Mac, but still out of 200,000 total customers, about 70,000 run Windows. Well, as of September 30th (yes, the same date that iTools shuts down), Emagic will no longer support Windows versions of their software. Not surprisingly, there is another petition online objecting to this new policy.
OK, we can all use a laugh at the expense of Windows users. “Software discontinued on your platform? Welcome to the pain I live with every day!” But seriously, once Apple bought Emagic, all Emagic’s customers, Mac or PC, became Apple’s customers. That very day, Apple gained 70,000 new customers, and promptly alienated every single one of them.
If the plan was to tick off the very people most likely to switch, Apple succeeded far beyond their expectations. I can just see the “Switcher” ad now:
You know, when I first learned Logic, it was a real bear. I must have spent a week with that thing just setting up the MIDI interface. Fortunately, I’m also a Windows user, so I’m used to frustration. But once I had it set up, it was great. Then I found out that Apple bought Logic, and were going to discontinue Windows support. After all that time I spent learning Logic, I don’t want to give it up. I guess my only choice is to switch to a Mac. My friend says they’re easier, but I still have to fork out some bucks…I’m Ken Adams, I’m a musician, and Apple can [expletive deleted] my [expletive deleted].
Goodwill is a part of good business, and Apple has been missing that point lately. When someone signs up for a service that’s advertised as “free for life,” they expect it to be free for life. When someone buys software written for a particular operating system, they expect the software to continue development on that platform as long as there’s a viable market for that operating system. Yes, companies reserve the right to “fill in the legal bull plop here,” and apparently companies also reserve the right to make bad decisions that cost customer goodwill and, ultimately, customers. Maybe we fooled ourselves into thinking that Apple was different, that Think Different (and better) meant do business different (and better). Time to wake up. The decision is made, and petitions won’t change anyone’s mind. Only bad sales will.
So both good and bad will probably come from Apple’s acquisition of Emagic. The good:
- Logic for OS X (finally).
- Apple’s celebrated ease-of-use will thankfully become part of Logic.
- Final Cut Pro and Logic make a great video/audio package.
And the bad:
- Steinberg will have the only high quality, cross-platform MIDI/digital multitrack application (Cuebase). Expect them to extend their dominance.
- Instead of encouraging PC users to switch (which I can only guess is Apple’s motivation), they will alienate them, and drive them over to Cuebase or Cakewalk.
- Avid might see a Final Cut/Logic bundle as a threat to their own position on the Mac with their Avid/Pro Tools package. Will this discourage Avid from developing Pro Tools for OS X, and will they instead put all their effort into Windows development, and leave OS 9 users without an upgrade path?
My overall opinion of the acquisition itself is still undecided. I’m going to wait awhile longer before committing to Logic or going another route. My opinion of Apple’s treatment of their customers is another matter. July was a bad month. I hope it’s the last, but I’m not counting on it.
Also in This Series
- Ready or Not! · November 2002
- The Other Petition · August 2002
- The Samples Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent · May 2002
- Record Execs Ate My Hard Drive! · April 2002
- And the Award Goes to… · March 2002
- Expos, From a Distance · February 2002
- My Resolution · January 2002
- Too Much Hype · November 2001
- And They’re Off! · September 2001
- Complete Archive