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Comment on "Implications of Adobe's Intel-Only Soundbooth"
by David Ramos — Nov 02
I just can't accept that Intel comprises 30% or 50% of the Mac installed base. Those figures might make sense for OmniGroup software users, who I suspect overlap heavily with Mac geeks, but not for Macs as a whole. How many Intel Macs has Apple shipped? On the order of 3 million? Well, there great deal more than 6 million Macs out the world. Sorry - those percentages just don't add up.

Nor do those figures pass the common sense test. I know dozens of Mac owners, most of them design professionals, and few of them upgraded their computers in the last year. Many of the studios I'm familiar with are plodding along on candy-colored hardware and Quicksilver G4s. Few people, even those who depend on computers for a living, have the budget to upgrade just because of a processor switch.

Hardware makers and software companies aren't the only organizations with large budgets and the need for long-term planning. When I worked in higher ed, our institution upgraded lab machines on a two-year cycle, and faculty computers every three years. Administrative users generally received trickle-down machines from labs. Mind you, this was a school with an enormous endowment, and our upgrade schedules seemed luxurious compared to what most other colleges used. In a large organization, machines get upgraded when they're scheduled to be upgraded. Cycles don't shift to accommodate architecture changes; a school can't just scare up a million dollars whenever a manufacturer changes their roadmap.

The consequence of this are that many, many machines in large institutions won't get upgraded just to match industry trends. They match the curve, but only eventually, through slow and stable adjustments that are moderated by budgets and upgrade cycles.

For the most intensive (and expensive) production environments, the computer is of less importance than other necessary equipment. It represents a miniscule capital investment, compared to other items - and it also provides a correspondingly small portion of the facility's capabilities. In audio and video, things like loudspeakers and online storage matter a great deal more than the machine itself. When a microphone costs $2000, upgrading the computer becomes relatively easy, but it also sinks to a low priority.

I suspect that all this matters relatively little, though. Soundbooth isn't a high-end DAW. It's more of a casual audio editor, useful perhaps for preparing sound for use in websites and podcasts or as an adjunct for Adobe's faltering video apps. Adobe's potential audience already comes from the margins of the audio world, and further restricting that audience might not represent a great loss of sales.
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