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Adobe pares Mac support

Adobe Systems announces new versions of its video products--but Mac users will be out of luck when it comes to video editing.

Adobe Systems announced new versions of its video-editing software Monday, including a Windows-only application that marks another high-profile defection from Apple Computer's Macintosh operating system.

Adobe, a specialist in publishing and imaging applications, announced a new version of Premiere, its main application for editing digital video. The new Premiere Pro will work only on PCs running Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, ending years of support for the Mac OS.

Meanwhile, Adobe is updating After Effects, its software for adding visual effects to video. After Effects 6.0 will be available in Mac and Windows versions. Adobe also is adding Audition, an audio-editing program it acquired from Syntrillium, where it was known as Cool Edit Pro. Audition will be Windows-only, as will the Adobe Video Collection, a package that includes Premier Pro, After Effects, Audition and the Encore DVD authoring application.

David Trescot, senior director of Adobe's digital video products group, said the new edition of Premiere is a complete rewrite of the application and it didn't make financial sense to support the Mac anymore.

"We were rewriting Premiere from scratch, and it would have taken a lot of work to have cross-platform support," Trescot said.

The Mac already has several competing video-editing applications, including Apple's Final Cut family of products, making for a small and crowded market, he said.

"If Apple's already doing an application, it makes the market for a third-party developer that much smaller," Trescot said. "I think you're going to find that more and more--if Apple's in a software market, third-party vendors are going to skip it."

Apple said that Adobe remains a valuable partner. "Adobe and Apple continue to have a great relationship, as evidenced by Adobe's recent support of the new Power Mac G5 with Photoshop performance that is twice as fast as before," Apple said in a statement.

Apple's balancing act
Adobe applications such as Photoshop are key tools for Apple's core user base of "creative professionals," but the software maker has shown signs of wavering in its commitment to the Mac. Adobe didn't bother with a Mac version of Photoshop Album, its new consumer digital photo product, because Apple already has the market covered with iPhoto. And the software maker earlier this year touted a purported Windows performance advantage in running video-editing software.

Microsoft recently made a similar move in the browser arena, saying it would halt development of Mac versions of its Internet Explorer, due to competition from Apple's Safari browser.

Roger Kay, an analyst for research firm IDC, said Apple faces a tricky balancing act as it expands its role as a software developer. Apple-created applications tend to provide a more consistent user experience that may attract new converts, he said. "Apple, by controlling its own stack from top to bottom, can provide a more integrated experience," Kay said. "They're less dependent on other companies to produce their user experience."

But Apple-published software also tends to alienate third-party developers, some of which have loyal followings among long-time Mac users. "When companies that have been longtime Mac supporters back away, it does tend to isolate them," Kay said. "Older users that have been loyal to particular Mac applications have to think about what it is that's keeping them on that platform."

The new Adobe products continue the company's push into video software, which company executives have identified as a major growth area for the software maker. Major enhancements include a new design in Premiere that allows editors to see the changes they've made without waiting for the PC hardware to render images.

For After Effects, the big news is support for OpenGL video-programming instructions, which will allow video cards to do much of the heavy lifting in processing visual effects. "It's a big difference in performance for anyone doing 3D animation," Trescot said.

Adobe is aiming the software at a range of customers--from broadcast professionals to marketing specialists and Web designers who occasionally need to produce video segments. "We're basically looking at anyone doing something for money with video," Trescot said.

All the new video products are set to ship later this summer. Premiere Pro will sell for $699 for the full version, $399 for those upgrading from Premiere LE, and $199 for those upgrading from a previous version of Premiere.

After Effects 6.0 will sell for $999 for the professional version and $699 for the standard version. Upgrade pricing ranges from $199 to $499. Audition will sell for $299 for the full version or $99 for those upgrading from a previous version of Cool Edit Pro.

The Adobe Video Collection--a package of Premiere Pro, After Effects Standard Edition, Encore and Audition--will sell for $999. Adobe Video Collection Professional Edition, which adds Photoshop and the professional edition of After Effects, will sell for $1,499.