Editorial: Everywhere I hear the sound
By David Leishman
“I think the time is right for a palace revolution…”
— “Street Fighting Man,” The Rolling Stones
Believe it or don’t, the first time I typed that song-title, it came out “Street Fighting Mac.” Which, given Apple’s opening announcements at this week’s Winter NAMM tradeshow, is entirely appropriate. Apple is consolidating its line of Emagic Logic music tools into two applications, labeled Express and Pro, and going on the attack. Sound familiar?
Twice a year, NAMM shows provide instrument makers, publishing houses, and hardware and software producers a showcase for their upcoming music-related products. Apple has had an on-again, off-again presence at NAMM until last year, when it began to populate the Emagic booth soon after buying that company in the summer of 2002.
Right after the purchase, Emagic released Logic Platinum 5.3, the first major Mac OS X-ready music sequencing application. (For you non-musicians in the band, think of sequencers as the page-makeup programs of music composition and production, which also accept plug-ins for software instruments, filtering, and a host of other functions.) The deal, the release, and Emagic’s rumored “inside track” to OS X’s core technologies, made Logic attractive to musicians looking to move to the new OS.
At the time of the purchase, Apple/Emagic announced that it would cease developing Logic for Windows, which of course raised howls of “Monopolist” from those orphaned users and cries of “See how you like a taste of your own medicine” from Mac devotees. Presumably, the move cut into Logic’s sales, but Emagic claims its software now is used by “over 200,000 musicians.” Sales figures aren’t released by the music software industry, but I think this makes Logic the number two sequencer in the Mac market, although it likely trails Digidesign’s various flavors of Pro Tools systems by a significant margin. For now.
In the digital video (DV) market, Apple defined and attacked the consumer, prosumer, and pro space with the launches of iMovie, Final Cut Express, and Final Cut Pro (FCP). It chased Adobe’s consumer and pro video production apps from the Mac marketplace, and launched a frontal attack on Avid’s dominance in the professional editing market.
Apple’s announcements yesterday, coupled with last week’s release of its consumer-oriented GarageBand app, mirror its DV strategy, and perhaps not ironically, set up another battle with Avid, which owns Digidesign. And while Logic Pro hasn’t undergone a cosmetic make-over like the one that sweetened the look of FCP, it combines products that sold for $2,300 yesterday and reduces their cost to $999. And a look-and-feel update may still occur during Apple’s year of the desktop music production blitzkrieg.
The Logic Pro and Express packages don’t quite live up to the pre-show rumors of “Pro Tools killers,” but they won’t go unnoticed by Digidesign, nor other third-parties in the music software world. I’ll be heading to NAMM tomorrow and I’ll have a roundup of the fight, er, show on Tuesday at MacCentral.
Apple posts $63M profit
Apple on Wednesday reported a net profit of US$63 million ($0.17 per diluted share) for the first quarter of its fiscal year 2004, which ended December 27, 2003. The company noted that revenue for the quarter jumped 36 percent year over year, to $2.006 billion — a four year high. Gross margin for the quarter was 26.7 percent, down from 27.6 percent for the same quarter a year ago.
A look at Apple’s Q1 sales, by the numbers
Salkever: Apple has done digital music right
IDC: Apple lost marketshare in 2003, to 3.2 percent
Apple: UK accounts for 1 in 6 Christmas iPods
Macworld Best of Expo awards announced
Nikon intros new Coolpix cameras
Nikon this week announced the new Coolpix 2200 and Coolpix 3200 digital cameras that sport new, slim designs, enhanced features, and 2.0 and 3.2 megapixels, respectively. The 2200 can produce pictures up to 1600 x 1200, with prints as large as 8 by 10 inches, and the 3200 can reach 2048 x 1536 resolution, with prints as large as 11 by 14 inches. Both cameras offer three movie modes, with sound included on the Coolpix 3200, that record until the SD memory card is full.
FireWire Depot debuts new drive enclosures
Griffin intros iTalk for iPod, SightLight
Canopus announces ADVC55 Analog-to-DV Converter
Kano debuts double-sided DVD+R media
Apple introduces Logic Pro 6, Logic Express 6
Apple on Thursday announced Logic Pro 6 (LP6) and Logic Express 6 (LE6) at this week’s NAMM show. LP6 combines 12 existing products into a single package, priced at US$999, that includes Logic Platinum and 53 audio DSP plug-ins and software instruments that were previously available separately for about $2300. LE6, priced at $299, is based on LP6 technology, but designed specifically for educators and students. It includes six pro tools and 28 different effect plug-ins and software instruments.
Apple previews Sculpture, UltraBeat, Guitar Amp
Apple also showed new music tools at NAMM that will be incorporated into future versions of Logic: Sculpture, described as a new component-modeling based synthesizer; UltraBeat, a new percussion synthesizer that supports FM, subtractive, sample-based and component modeling synthesis; and Guitar Amp, a simulator that recreates the sound of well-known guitar amps. Apple also indicated that future versions of Logic Pro will feature support for enhanced Apple Loops and connectivity to GarageBand.
Apple releases SoundTrack v1.2 update
IBM announces two new G5-optimized compilers
Leverage Keynote in Final Draft with PitchBoards
AutoScrubber permanently erases your private data
Photoshop sports anti-counterfeiting measures
Around the Web
Apple Nibbles at New Markets…
Mark Hall of Computerworld takes a look at Apple’s Xserve and RAID systems, with an emphasis on their price-and-performance ration versus Windows-based server solutions. And, although the hardware is “the price leader…by a couple of bucks,” Apple’s no per-client fees for Mac OS X make it a huge winner over comparable Dell hardware.
Ask Tog — Panther: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
A Mac user’s look at the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show
Ihnatko: Jobs ‘keeps wowing ’em’
iPhoto Takes a Backseat
One-terabyte FireWire 800 drive