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April 13th, 1999

[Editorial] Going Once, Going Twice... sold! (AKA Honey I shrank the Mac graphics market.)
by Himitsu

Usually, I talk about news from Japan. But the only thing to report from Japan is a new Prime Minster (anyone outside Japan notice?), the nice volcano that is making its neighbors really "Think different," and Apple's continued reluctance to reduce prices on Macs. So I will focus on North America.

Adobe quietly announced that it would purchase Carrara and Canoma from MetaCreationss. And recently, Corel purchased Painter, Kai's Power Tools, KPT Vector Effects and Bryce. This leaves Poser as the last remaining big app in the MetaCreationss lineup. (What happened to SHOW??) Who will be the likely buyer? But before we get to that, let's look at those two other sales, and the graphic's market.

First up Adobe; The next version of Illustrator looks good and worth the upgrade cost. It adds features that its competitors have already had and goes one further. PhotoShop keeps getting bigger and ... ummm.. better? I think PhotoShop is getting a bit out of hand. Perhaps it is time to divide this app into 2 or 3 more manageable programs targeted at different markets. (ImageReady is a good step.) InDesign is coming along, and their change in upgrade policy will help out. (The power of the Internet!) GoLive will FINALLY get a real update. Let's hope the bugs are squashed and the new features don't bring us new ones. Somehow, I can't help but think that if GoLive had retained this program, it would be two versions up on Dreamweaver. Adobe's nemesis, Macromedia really has its act together as far as the web is concerned. Flash, and Dreamweaver have propelled them from the old Macromedia (i.e. Director only) to a company that has a great range of products. Adobe should give up its efforts to make a Flash killer, and adopt Flash as a standard in its programs.

Now, where does Carrara and Canoma fit in with Adobe's product line? Adobe's strategy is to morph each M&A app into its "standard" interface. It will take a lot of work to get those apps in line with Adobe's other products. My guess, is that some technology will make it's way into Adobe's lineup and the apps will die. The Macintosh 3D model/render market is a tough market with most users expecting "Maya" power for under $400.

Next Corel. Corel did an M&A with Inprise (was Borland). Their direction has been going towards Linux. I think their goal is to become the Microsoft of the Linux world. In a few years, their entire lineup will be offered for Linux. Their PR claims they are interested in enhancing their Mac "lineup." Hmm.. remember Word Perfect? Corel Draw, is a fine program, but we have Freehand, Illustrator, and Canvas. I think this market is too crowed for Corel Draw. Corel's latest consumer level apps are also a bore. My advice to our neighbors up North is, stick with Linux and make some money (someday.) My prediction is that we will get a PR from Corel next month stating "The code base for these programs are too old, so we will kill off the programs, but we will make them downloadable." (Hmm... That would be nice.)

I want to talk about these MetaCreations products now. Painter is an important tool to many artists. I really hope this program gets the support/upgrades that it deserves. Perhaps if Corel is serious about going head to head with Adobe and Macromedia, Painter would be a good weapon. We all love Bryce images (and have seen a Zillion of them.) I prayed that this app would have been bought by the makers of Cinema 4D so that we could get those nice pictures rendered in "one's lifetime."

KPT Tools has been going downhill I think. When it came on the scene, it made a huge impact. Until then, we had a bunch of boring filters. (Except for Alien's and Xaos. Are they still alive?) KPT Tools "made" the 3rd party plugin market happen. I would like to see each plugin in the package sold separately so I can choose which ones I want. I think 30% of them are good, the other's must make even Klaus blush.

So, who will buy Poser? My choice would be the makers of "Life Forms," a 3D App for making character movements. Runner's up is a toss-up between HASH and Microsoft. Why Microsoft? Well, I'm sure they would include a model of Bill Gates. Think of all the fun you could have putting Gates in every possible position. 8-) Other models to include : Janet Reno, OJ Simpson, Austin Powers and Al Gore (one position only.)

I was disappointed that "Play Inc." with their VERY KPTish GUI didn't make a "play" for any of MetaCreationss apps. They could have bought Carrara, Canoma, Bryce, and Poser to fill their under $1000 (Electric Image) product line hole which features the lonely Amorpheum.

Strata was a no-show. They could have also benefited from getting the technology and programmers from those apps. Strata seems to be in their y2K bunker still. Version 3.0 anyone??? (Extensis) was my sure bet for the MetaCreations's plugin lineup. I'm glad I didn't put any money on that bet. I'm curious as to why a big plugin company didn't consider it.

Macromedia seems to be the company in the best position at the moment. They have a solid product line that addresses many markets, and their FLASH technology is becoming a standard on the net. FYI: I don't use any of their apps. In the end, they might be the true winners in this graphics auction, because they didn't attend the bidding party.

Yes, it looks like it will truly be a M.A.C. (Macromedia, Adobe, Corel) market in the future for graphic apps. I'm not sure if this is so good. It was a lot more fun when all those companies that got gobbled up by M.A.C. were running around and updating, improving their product lines, and listening to their customers.

Himitsu lives and works in Japan, the rest is a secret...

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