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MWSF - From The Floor: Alias Looking To See Mac Account For 50% Of Sales

by , 8:00 AM EST, January 11th, 2001

Alias|Wavefront, the maker of the high-end 3D animation package Maya, is looking to see the Mac fill 50% of its sales. Alias|Wavefront is currently working to bring their product to Mac OS X and was featured in Steve Jobs' keynote address on Tuesday. Maya is currently the creme dé la creme of 3D animation and was used in recent movies like The Perfect Storm and The Grinch. It was also used in the development of The G4 Cube. Current versions of Maya run only on Irix, Windows NT, and Windows 2000.

The Mac Observer met with Richard Kerris, Director of Maya Technologies and the person who delivered the Maya presentation during the MACWORLD keynote. Mr. Kerris said that his company hopes to eventuially see 50% of their sales coming from the Mac platform. Considering the fact that 100% of the company's current sales come from other platforms, those are ambitious goals. According to Mr. Kerris:

The power that's gone into the Mac and the focus that's gone into the Mac for the creative professional has made it just takes leaps and bounds [over the competition]. This is the computer of choice. I know Adobe does 50% of their sales on the Mac, and that says it all right there. We expect to do that kind of thing.

When asked for clarification, Mr. Kerris said that his goal was to do 50% of their sales on the Mac, though internal company goals were more conservative. Alias also expects most of these new sales to be from new customers as opposed to cannibalizing sales from their existing customers. Since announcing the Mac OS X version of the product, Mr. Kerris says they have been contacted by a variety of Mac dominated businesses such as advertising agencies, a segment of the market not previously seen as Maya customers.

Despite the Mac's success in graphic development and its early successes in 3D graphics, the overall 3D market is dominated by Windows NT and SGI's version of Unix, called IRIX. This is in part because of their ability to scale, their ability to move data through the computer (often referred to as (I/O), and their superior support for multi-threading and symmetric multi-processing. Mac OS X brings these features to Mac users and makes the port of Maya possible.

Alias is serious about making Maya the kind of app that Mac users want. "We're listening," says Mr. Kerris. "One thing we heard early on from Mac users was ‘We're really glad you're bringing Maya to the Mac. Now, don't screw it up ; don't just port your application.'" The company's answer to this has been to put together a dedicated team to build Maya for Mac OS X from the ground up to be a Mac product. In addition to including excellent support for QuickTime, this team has sought to make Maya into a proper Aqua application.

Mr. Kerris, former Head of Development of Electric Image, says that Alias has worked closely with Apple during the development process. This includes close interaction between engineers and joint trips to Maya customer sites to meet with users together. He says the Apple of today is a much different company than it was before Steve Jobs returned to head the company. "They've been great," says Mr. Kerris. "Apple's really been like this big sponge absorbing this stuff. We're working on this version of [Mac OS] X that's a few weeks old, and everything we've been asking for is going in. They haven't come back to us like the old days and just said ‘well, that's is the way we do it.' This ain't your daddy's Apple anymore."

Maya for Mac OS X is heading into beta testing in four weeks. Once released, the final product will be priced at US$7500, the same price as the company's other versions. At this time, the company is only bringing Maya Complete to Mac OS X. Maya Unlimited may be considered at a later time. You can find more information on Maya Complete at the company's Web site.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This ain't your daddy's Apple anymore. What a great way to put the change in Apple since 1997. Nothing personal Gil, it all happened long before you were duped into taking over Apple. It was very exciting meeting with a company that is as excited about entering the Mac market as are the Maya folks we met. Clearly this team "get's" the Mac.

This product represents a very large new market for Apple that they currently do not inhabit. That market almost always needs the high end of hardware available, and that translates into new sales for Apple. It is also a perfect fit for a company that so dominates the rest of the creative fields. Lastly, it offers the opportunity for seeing more Macs enter gaming development houses, which can only help increase developer interest in the platform. Maya is a major coup for Apple and will prove to be a boon for Mac users of every variety.

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