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Beyond iPod , Apple grows healthy software business

updated 03:05 am EST, Mon January 31, 2005

Apple software biz growing

Apple's , but while it may help sell Macs, the expanding number of Apple-branded software applications is affecting some third-party developers, according to The San Francisco Chronicle: "Last fiscal year, the Cupertino firm's software sales came in at $503 million, a 39 percent improvement from the previous year. Beyond Apple's hugely successful iPod and online music store, software -- which includes its iLife set of multimedia programs, tools for professional musicians and filmmakers and the Mac operating system -- has become the fastest-growing part of its business....But as Apple continues to improve and expand its own software offerings, it faces the challenge of not discouraging those third-party developers, who may be selling or working on similar programs."

by MacNN Staff





  1. tontondavid10

    Joined: Dec 1969


    saound like ...

    ... what happened to audion. Did any of you guys read the audion story? there's this bit in there where they relate how they met Steve at the apple HQ and Jobs asked them what else they'd been working on and he just told them bluntly, "Yeah, don't do that." because they were thinking about doing an iPhoto type program and so was apple. How's that for not discouraging the developers?

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I can appreciated it

    Here are me thoughts on the 3rd party thing. Does anyone think that a Apple's iLife is a NOT a driving force in is hardware sales? What about Safari? OK, how about iTunes? No brainer? iChat? How about the features coming in Tiger like dashboard. I understand that with Apple coming into the software market and debunking some 3rd developers that it might seems Apple is losing a certain aspect of their developer pool, but I think the benefits really out weight the consequences. I'll just add, before I explain, my feelings on this are the same for Apple resellers.

    First, none of these developers are writing killer apps, apps that would make someone switch to the Mac, they would have to pay extra for the privilege to run it. Apple is offering a computer which is fully functional write out of the box, no extras needed. It helps sell Apple machines, which makes Apple more relevant in the larger scheme of things. You have to be really honest with this, the only major company which was keeping Apple alive during the dark days in professional circuits was Adobe. Other developers, what the h*** were they doing? It is Apple responsibility to remain relevant, to do so they must sell, to sell they have to offer more than the other guy and do it in a better way. Let's not forget, Apple has also bought software companies out right and continued to develop it's products; Logic comes to mind. Apple does not need a developer to make widgets, it needs developers who are writing major relevant applications in a manner which out performs the same kind of app on a different platform; Modeling, GIS, CAD, Stats, PM, Physics, Analysis, etc. These are why companies buy PCs, that is why I live in world where I choice to use my Mac, but must use a PC for some applications, and that is what I want developers to work on, not another frelling widgit.

    One more thing, many 3rd developers are failing against Apple b/c they don't make a better product then Apple. To make my point, the opposite is also true, make a better product than Apple and you will sell it. I give you Watson, which I bought two licenses from, and who (grr) turned around and sold it to Sun.

  1. boske

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The good of the platform

    Having a solid set of apps that define the products focus in a wide market is a good idea. Some things should not be left to chance, especially for the OSX platform.
    We have seen Microsoft use Office as a bargaining tool, digital cameras come with sub-standard, Mac versions of the their software, and similar releases of software with obvious extensions to the OS' tools for two or more developers released at the same time.

    What I would like to see now is a good accounting package from Apple. This is the #1 reason people aren't using or buying Macs for small business in Canada. There aren't any Canadian offerings. Intuit has seen to it.

  1. jscotta

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Software Developers

    I am one - a software developer. And I can tell you that I have nearly a dozen projects in the wings awaiting my first one to release. Ideas for new applications is not lacking. And in the computer business, if you only have one idea, be prepared for a very short career.

    I disagree with slider on one thing above - programmers making widgets. Apple needs programmer at every level. Everything from full-blown major applications to fill holes to the plug-ins that enhance other programs like the iLife suite and the operating system. Programmers need to be writing applications that are better than what Apple puts out.

    For example, iPhoto is a great application but does anyone doubt that there are better programs out there for asset management? Does anyone doubt that there are better applications for personal photo editing in the market?

    Apple is providing the rising water that can raise all our boats. Apple is providing frameworks that can open the doors to fantastic applications that can blow away the status quo. Take a look at the idea of Core Image and Core Video. Talk about the basis for a potential threat to Adobe Photoshop? By providing a central repository for a huge number image and video effects, a developer can spend their time thinking about the interface and the workflow and not worry about the huge coding issues involved in what has become standards for image processing. I am looking to see Photoshop killers not coming from Apple. Rather, I am looking to see them coming from places like Stone and from completely unknown developers.

    Other areas where we need major applications are:

    - FrameMaker replacement
    - GPS/Map software
    - NetMeeting type software
    - a whole range of enterprise business software

    Take a look around. The only applications where I see Apple really taking over is in the professional video production arena. And even here they have opened a huge world to plug-ins and associated applications. The only programmers that are discouraged are those looking for very easy pickings.

    Apple is raising the bar and brining more customers to us developers. They have killed nothing. Take a look at Watson. Watson killed itself by not making it much easier to make more great services for its much faster than Sherlock application. I know that there were a huge number of potential plug-ins for Watson and they executed and very few. Why? Watson ad the basis to continue on very strongly but they chose instead to complain and then sell out their customers. Are there new technologies coming along that could make Watson obsolete? Sure. But that is true of anything and everything. Got to keep growing and evolving.

    Okay. That's enough for now. But I do have so much more I could add.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    go apple go

    Yes, its ashame about 3rd party developers having competition, but Apple, at least so far, has done wonders for the platform with iMovie, iPhoto, and Garageband, to name a few.

    3rd parties developers allowed us to get the crippled version of the software a few months after the windows version.

    Apple is offering a chance to have unique software that makes owning a Mac the better choice.

    Even adobe often has windows only software or some feature that didn't quite make it to the Mac version...this was slow death.

    so go apple go...and to the developers...I agree it sucks to have your product lose out in the marketplace, but keep going and find a new niche. It's life in a free market.

  1. macdude22

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I understand where your coming from. Larger 3rd party developers might now be able to compete. Well they should make a better product. I'll use something else when it works better than iPhoto, iTunes, and iMovie. Right now it sure doesn't.

    One thing I've always loved about the mac is the thriving shareware community. High quality shareware. This is something you don't see in the Windows World typically. Look at Ambrosia Software, they make games that rival the biggest of developers, at least from a fun and playable perspective.

    Things I own and love

    Several Ambrosia Games
    Netflix Freak

    The Mac has always had wonderful shareware to fill most any Niche I have needed. Mac FTP apps like Fetch, Transmit, and FTPeel are lightyears ahead of anything on the Windows side, especially the defacto standard commercial app. WS_FTP, ugh.

    Checkbook and Netflix freak both provide a great service to me. And while their function might be replicated on Windows, the form isn't and it's simply more pleasing to use these shareware Mac apps than a commercial Windows app.

    Did any of that make sence? I'm coked up on coffee right now.

  1. macbarry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    accounting software?

    There is apparently a huge hole (and big opportunity for developers?) in the availability of competent, modern accounting software for the Mac OS. A friend of mine, who just switched from a PC to a Mac has recently discovered that his newly purchased Quickbooks Pro software for his new Mac is so far behind the Windows version that it is essentially worthless to him. He said his first impulse upon this discovery was to sell the new Mac on eBay. However, he's now decided to just buy a cheap PC to only run Quickbooks instead and keep the Mac because he loves his iPod and the Mac's freedom from viri.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: sounds like

    Jobs asked them what else they'd been working on and he just told them bluntly, "Yeah, don't do that." because they were thinking about doing an iPhoto type program and so was apple. How's that for not discouraging the developers?

    Well, on the other hand, how'd you like to be a developer and spend a year working on a photo app, only to see Apple release iPhoto within 3 months. Sure you'll get the sympathy purchase here and there, but don't you think it was a 'nice' thing for Apple to inform Audion that they were working on a similar app. Nothing prevented them from working on it, but now they knew what they were going to be up against.

  1. ScottEllsworth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Truly needed

    Apple does not have the time or resources to write everything. Further, they are only going to write software if they see a significant gap, or a significant place to add value.

    Further, Apple does charge for its software, but not a lot. Thus, you should keep a very close eye on what that software costs, and whether you can compete at that price point. Were I a spreadsheet maker, I would be very interested in the $79 price point of iWork. If they keep that, and create a spreadsheet, I will have a hard time selling my spreadsheet for $100, all by itself.

    I think this is a good thing - software prices in the hundreds make sense when the average machine was $5k, but seem a bit less reasonable when machines have gone under a grand. It does mean, though, that you need to find ways to make software more quickly, and with more quality. You cannot afford a tech support call if the margin is only $7 per copy. I do believe that Apple's dev tools make that reasonable.

    Consider Writer's Dreamkit, and the more expensive programs produced by the dramatic people. These niche programs cost quite a bit of money. Far more than Pages. That said, they add a certain value. Enough for me to buy the $50 dreamkit, but not enough for the full blown dramatica. I certainly hope the authors regularly try out other products, and ask themselves whether they are, indeed, adding $50 or $100 in value, and how they can reduce their costs such that they need to add less, or how they can add features to justify that premium. They have done well so far, and I hope they continue to do so, but if they lose sight of the extra cost, or delude themselves that they have no competition, then they will fail and deservedly so.

    As a developer, I believe the take home lesson is to write the software you dream of. If you have a good idea, create it with skill, and market it well, you can succeed, even if Apple does enter your market. If not, do not be surprised if the market does not reward you.


  1. Deal

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Why does Apple get blamed for writing great applications?

    It's not like Microsoft, who writes crappie applications and then gives them away for free (or bundles them with other applications that have a strangle hold), causing people not to buy the better applications.

    Apple writes GREAT applications. There is nothing out there to compare what you get with iLife.

    Anybody who knows both Access and FileMaker Pro knows this. If you had to buy Access separately from MS Office, everybody would be on the FM Pro bandwagon. If everybody knew Access had a 1GB file limit, they would never buy Access and write an important database on it.

    Who is writing about this? Nobody, But lets blame Apple for giving us GREAT applications!

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