Blog Post

The Mac & Third-Party Software Launches: Nothing Has Changed

When reading TAB writer Darrell Etherington’s article on how Mac users were left out of the Microsoft (s msft) Office 2010 launch party, the first thing that struck me was that not only that it’s true, but it’s also nothing new. For the most part, Mac user are left out of most launch parties.

Aside from Microsoft, consider these other examples:

  • The Mac wasn’t invited to the Quicken launch party, but isn’t it nice of Intuit (s intu) to throw it some crumbs next year?
  • The Mac wasn’t invited to the Google Chrome launch party. But it’s OK, because Sergey Brin said it was “embarrassing.” Right. As if Google (s goog) just forgot about the Mac, and was blushing about it. It wasn’t embarrassing, it was planned; don’t insult us by acting like it was some sort of mistake.
  • The Mac wasn’t invited to the Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 or 6.0 launch parties. In fact, the 5.0 party was completely canceled for the Mac.

The above are just some of the Big Boys who operate “business as usual.” There are plenty of examples in the smaller development houses as well.

I know Windows has the commanding market share and user base in the PC world. I understand why you’d choose Windows if you just wanted to write for one platform. I have zero problem with this. However, I do take issue with vendors that support both platforms still spitting out one after the other instead of twin releases.

Don’t tell me it’s a resource issue; I see Apple do it all the time. Ever notice Safari comes out on both platforms at once now? As does iTunes, and QuickTime. Sure, Apple must cater to the larger Windows user base while not ignoring its own, but my point is Apple is proof you can release to both platforms simultaneously. Other vendors don’t do this because they don’t care enough about the Mac to change their ways, not because it can’t be done. Much like Mr. Brin, they’ll pay lip service to the Mac, but I’d prefer to judge them by their actions.

Any time Mac users get to thinking that Apple’s great success the last dozen years has changed how developers view the Mac, it hasn’t. Twelve years ago it was seen as a tiny percentage of PC users (maybe 2.5 percent globally). Today, it’s still seen as a tiny percentage of PC users (maybe 4 percent). True enough, so the Mac sits last in line despite the BS from various vendors. The only thing that’s really changed is how developers talk about the Mac.

The Mac user base used to be a lot more vocal about this. I’m not sure why it has gotten so quiet lately.

16 Responses to “The Mac & Third-Party Software Launches: Nothing Has Changed”

  1. “The Mac user base used to be a lot more vocal about this. I’m not sure why it has gotten so quiet lately.”

    Perhaps the Mac user demographic is changing? My perception is that Mac users used to be technical types who chose Macs because they had specific capabilities, and were thus more likely to be more vocal about Mac matters. These days, I’m sure there is still the core of technical Mac users but I imagine more and more Mac users fall in to the non-technical ‘I just want something that works’ category, and so aren’t the sort of people who necessarily express opinions on the state of the software market, as long as they can surf, do email and the basics with music and photos, etc.

    All guesswork on my part though. I only ‘switched’ to using a Mac about 18 months ago after years supporting Windows (and even DOS and OS/2!), so I still consider myself new to the Mac scene.

  2. Bob Smith

    The Intuit situation is a little odd. You’d think that they would jump at the chance to corner the current Mac market.

    Why should Intuit care what Mac users think? Every Quicken/Quickbooks user I know who has been pissed off by the Mac version of the product has purchased the Windows version instead. Zero loss of revenue for Intuit. Given the near-universal disgust at the Mac version of Intuit’s products, I don’t know why the still bother.

  3. I’m surprised that the developers bother at all with these Mac versions. Photoshop Elements? Is it simply a vehicle for potential upgrades to the full-on Photoshop? Why should Adobe try to compete with the iLife package?

    Microsoft — not to mention Mac users — might be better served by canning the Mac version of Office. They could offer a special bundle to Mac users containing Office 2010 along with a copy of Windows 7. “Need to run Office on your Mac? No problem — buy our specially priced bundle and install via Boot Camp.” If it were priced at, say, $250US then how many Mac users would even bother with the clunky Office 2008? Apple’s iWork suite is a functional alternative at only 80 bucks.

    The Intuit situation is a little odd. You’d think that they would jump at the chance to corner the current Mac market. They certainly haven’t had to compete with offerings from Apple. Toss in a clean and simple iPhone companion — what are they waiting for?

  4. Jeffrey

    You will understand the pain if you are doing design work for a living. Mac version of Adobe apps are like 100 times worse than their Windows counter parts.

  5. No one said it “cannot” be done. It’s just a simple resource prioritization. Newsflash: developing software is not trivial. Developers are not lazy.

    • pwb,

      For the record, I never said developers were lazy.

      My point is that the “simple resource prioritization” could be addressed if they wanted to; they simply choose not to. Yet all the while they pay lip service to the Mac as if it’s not the neglected platform it is.

  6. Xairbusdriver

    Adobe never made Elements 5 for the Mac. 6 came out early last year. Elements 7 has been available for Windows for quite some time. From what I hear, from programmers who know about them, Apple simply buries MS with super development tools. But most developers simply can’t give up the Windows market share just because it’s easier and nicer to develop for the Mac. Like most of us, they have to put meat on the table…

    • Xairbusdriver,

      In Adobe’s case, I think the native tools don’t matter much because I’m pretty sure they’re using their own cross-platform stuff.

      Adobe may be the worst offender of those that I complain about. When you think about it, Mac users have been pretty much uninvited to every launch party Adobe has ever thrown.

    • Apple makes very nice development tools, but they hardly bury MS in that area. Visual Studio is fantastic and very well supported. The programmers you hear from sound like fanboys.

  7. If it costs more than 4% more to develop a Mac version alongside the Windows version I can understand why most companies don’t bother. I’m sure the typical number is much more like 20%.

    • Brad,

      I’m not talking about companies who choose not to offer software for the Mac (i.e., those who “don’t bother”). I’m talking about those that DO develop for both platforms. In that case, the decision is already made, so I think they could put forth a better effort.

  8. Blizzard is another good example of a developer who releases for both Windows and Mac at the same time. For World of Warcraft, it makes sense to avoid segmenting the users on different servers (Ala EQ Mac vs EQ Windows). Even prior to WoW, games like Warcraft III and Diablo 2 shipped with hybrid discs.

    Developers are just being lazy, and in the end it means they are leaving money on the table. Market share is a tricky number, since it often times also includes the tons of PCs bought for businesses. If your in the entertainment industry especially, your potential Mac market is a lot larger then just 4%. I’d be real curious to know how many WoW players are on a Mac, clearly it’s enough that Blizzard sees fit to continue to support the platform, and even add unique features like in game video recording.