Are Apple's Emagic switch rebates enough?

Miffed musos mull moolah

Some 60,000 users of Emagic Logic software hold the key to Apple's future in the audio business, and despite a $1300 rebate on the table to Windows users, it might not be enough.

Apple announced it was buying Emagic in July, and it will cease selling the Windows versions at the end of the month; from then on, only patches will be forthcoming for the PC versions.

Switchers get a free Mac license off the bat: those who shell out for a new Mac can claim a $250 rebate, plus entitlement to the current Apple promo of $250 off the price of the G4 and a 17 inch monitor (or $500 off the $3000 23 inch monitor); and one other item from the Emagic software catalog worth up to $399.

That tops $1300, according to Emagic. But users comments posted to community boards pointed out that the monitor rebate is not a unique inducement, as it points to an existing Apple rebate designed to shift stock in the current economic funk that sees all PC companies struggling to shift stock.

(We can't imagine what the market will look like in six months time, when the shooting war provokes a spike in oil prices, but we'll take our pessimism one blue pill at a time, if you please).

A completely unscientific and unrepresentative sample of Emagic Windows users we know revealed the number who were considering a switch to Apple hardware as precisely zero. Which explains the generosity of the rebates, helped, no doubt by Steinberg's own switch campaign.

"The alternative would be to lose about 30% (assuming an optimistic 5% of the 35% of total users switch anyway) to the competition. According to the figures published by Emagic this means trying to prevent losing 60000 customers," noted one Logic user on the Logic forum.

Viewed from the surface, Apple's success with FinalCutPro, which it acquired cheaply from Macromedia, suggests that it has the business skill necessary to win mindshare in a a vertical market. But it isn't so simple. Macromedia had few customers for its software, while Emagic has many, and more importantly, carries sixteen years experience of building a community, which with its specialist hardware and plug-ins, is much more of a federation-status eco-system. It can't afford to change platforms like you'd change a shirt.

On the other hand, it's precisely factors such as inertia and the community network that have maintained Apple's position in the pro audio business, in the face of ever more impressive low-cost Wintel multimedia hardware. So it'll be very interesting how this plays out. Some finesse will be required, and that doesn't end at rebates. ®

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