WWSD: Potential Corel Acqusition? | Cult of Mac

WWSD: Potential Corel Acqusition?

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Filed under: Pure, Wild, Speculation

In my post regarding Apple’s apparent targeting of Adobe (if not them specifically then certainly their space) , there were such great, insightful comments that I decided to play a little game: What Would Steve Do? Taking a look at a potential Corel acquisition, how could we leverage the direct and indirect effects of that acquisition into an inferred Apple business strategy.

Now clearly, I’m not inside Steve’s head, that’s Leander’s niche, but these kinds of strategies are very much what I do for a living, so lets make some irresponsible, purely speculative, wild guesses, shall we? Of course gazing into the looking glass is no fun all by yourself, so lets make this an audience participation piece. I’ll lay out the basic framework after the break, and then we’ll pull from the comments for a follow-up piece.

DISCLAIMER: Everything that follows is ABSOLUTE FICTION. We have no “actionable” intelligence that suggests that that ANYTHING like the below may/will/could happen. We have moved beyond the point of even rational speculation into pure fantasy. Please play accordingly.

iworkwindows

What do we do with WordPerfect Office X3?
It’s the nine hundred pound gorilla in the room, and also the easiest question to answer. After a nice interface-lift to Apple-ize the suite, it becomes iWork for Windows. Lest you call me crazy, Apple already offers the most popular piece of software on the Windows platform: iTunes, and it’s got another product out there: Safari.

This isn’t about trying to displace MS Office’s dominance, although at $69.00 iWork for Windows could likely capture the “Student Teacher” market, and might even attract some OEM’s to the table for pre-install.

Consider our other options: spinning off WP Office X3 as its own company to sink or swim (it will sink), or discontinuing the product altogether (also called the Oracle strategy).

Offering Windows users a bit more of the Mac cache’ with an office suite isn’t a bad plan: getting Windows users hooked on the Apple experience, and then eventually turning them into Mac users.

The PainterX Question
Duh, it’s why we bought the company. There will likely be two versions”¦ The first, simply rebranded “Apple” and given a complaint UI. The second comes after we’ve dealt with the CorelDRAW/Designer problem, so lets get to that.

The CorelDRAW/Designer question
This is Apple’s nightmare, it’s their Vietnam (or more contemporaneously, their Iraq), it’s the place that will suck resources, time, love and money all on a wild-ass-bet. The bet is: If we can port this to the Macintosh, we can in the process, have a real, honest-to-goodness graphics suite that bests Adobe. If we can’t do it in a timely enough fashion, it will be an albatross around Apple’s neck.

All of this mess, CorelDRAW, Designer, PainterX, Paintshop Pro X2, Photo Impact, ULead Photo, Media One Plus and the seven-zillion other products in Corel’s portfolio were for the most part acquired from 3rd parties. That means different code-bases, standards and even development metaphors. That and the product suite would need an interface lift to be branded “Apple”

This is one of those endeavors that makes exec’s wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to build it from scratch. –That’s not a bad plan, save for the time and effort needed to do it. The other serious option is a straight-up-stone-cold-port, that’s by far the easiest, but then we’d have a bunch of software that while Mac, wouldn’t befit the Apple brand.

No, what needs to happen here, is to modularize everything. Break it up into basic reusable components, port those components, and plug them into a brand spanking new user interface: iCreate.

iCreate
This is where the bet pays off, where Apple captures instant and indomitable market-share from Adobe. By taking the time and effort to modularize everything that’s worth while from Corel’s tower of Babel graphics and photo tools, Apple would be able to do something Adobe can not do: Bring them all under a single user interface in a single modular application.

Anybody who has tried playing with CS3 for a while (or lord help you, uses it for a living) knows how frustrating it is to have half a dozen (or more) different applications to work in. And just try cutting a transparent image from PS, and pasting it into illustrator”¦ half the damn time, the background shows up at white. Nothing beats: ‘oh you want to do text with a drop shadow, switch to Illustrator, you want to magic wand select parts of a bitmap, switch back to Photoshop’, rinse-wash-repeat.

No, iCreate as one suite, with many plug-ins, to add vector, bitmap, photo editing, integration with iWork and iWeb, is a winner, and if Apple could pull it off, worth the paltry price of Corel.

What about ULead Video Suite, Media Studio, WinDVD Creator, and whatnot.
Well for the Video and DVD products, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here goes:

ilifewindows.png

For everything else:
Here’s where the “Oracle” strategy comes in (I call it that, and I’m not in the least being disparaging of Oracle). Oracle when it buys a company, looks at 2 things:
1) Does this company have technology I want?
2) Does this company compete with technology I already have?

If the answer to both questions is “yes”, then they buy the subject company. Oracle acquires the technology they want, and kills off a competitor at the same time. Smart. Smart. Smart.

Since Apple doesn’t compete with any of these Windows based products, the purple elephants get sold instead to whomever their chief competitor is in the windows space. This is done as a means to offset Apple’s initial acquisition costs, with the sub-textual threat that if said competitors DON’T buy these purple elephants, they WILL show up next year with a market-share stealing Apple Logo on them.

Okay”¦ there’s my play, now I’d love to hear your adds/builds or revisions.

44 responses to “WWSD: Potential Corel Acqusition?”

  1. Ambassador from Hell says:

    Here’s my humble amateur opinion:

    iTunes for windows works because of the iPod. Yeah, everybody loves how beautiful and simple it is but it’s success is based on the iPod’s success. And so far Safari for Windows isn’t a big hit (then again, it’s not the biggest hit on a Mac either, anyone who knows anything is using Firefox, Opera or something like that). Therefore I wouldn’t recomend Apple taking on the windows software market. But people with Macs will buy anything Apple is selling so I think iCreate ‘d be huge. I’d go for the start from scratch strategy. Besides the fact that it wouldn’t be entirely from scratch (Aperture) they’d just be creating one (granted, huge) piece of software instead of having to deal with all the aforementioned. Plus, they should concentrate their efforts on taking on one company at a time, Adobe. Not only are their products synonymic with image creation an manipulation, they are by far market leaders and despite their (multiple) short-comings they damn good programs.

  2. Matthew says:

    no way that apple would make a iWork suite for Windows and sell it for that little – they want to use their software as a reason to buy mac hardware, which is where they make their profits, same for ilife, although the threat of it could be used to get some sucker to buy that crap.

    I’m hoping you’re right on the Corel idea though, you accurately describe the misery which is my life in the CS Suite. The only program that works halfway well is after effects – but that is the one i use the least, so maybe I just haven’t had time to get into all the bugs, crashes, problems and so on just yet. And is it just me, or is carbon feeling SLOOOOW of late. neither CS or Office are as fast, or stable as coca based apps seem to be. 64 bit Cocca based graphics software would be worth Corel all the way.

  3. Dan says:

    That’s a very interesting scenario, and I think iWork Windows could actually do quite well. Furthermore, a strong alternative to CS3 would be very welcome – particularly if it’s priced within reason. On the other hand, I really can’t see Apple making an iLife Windows. Why? Well, Apple’s promoting the image of itself as a “creative” platform, with iLife as it’s crowning jewel – that is, software that’s the envy of the windows world, included with every mac – “Do it right out of the box” as they say.

    If they sold iLife on windows, Apple may end up cannibalizing their main revenue source – Macs. After all, iLife is a major selling point for the Macintosh for many people. If an average PC-user is thinking about switching to a Mac, and iLife is a deciding factor, then a $79 iLife Windows suite combined with a relatively cheap PC (and iTunes for free) may at least satisfy their needs. That is, they may simply spend $79 on a software package rather than $600 (or usually much more) for a Mac. This wouldn’t be good for Apple. Recall the Mac Clones debacle…

  4. CSMcDonald says:

    Well, Corel had cross developed Draw & PhotoPaint on versions 10 & 11, so they do have some existing codebase on their core (and original) applications.

    Draw actually still works on Leopard, but PhotoPaint unfortunately crashes. I found it to be a bit more intuitve than Photoshop.

  5. Thomas says:

    An image editing app/suite would be a nice bonus to launch with a potential mac tablet. Maybe a touchscreen is one of the updates in the rumored redesigned macbook/macbook pro?

  6. fuzzy says:

    Making a living with CS3 9 hrs. a day, I’ll admit to being a bit biased but ease of use does come with experience. That being said, I wouldn’t sit someone down in front of it and tell them how easy and simple it is to use. It’s not. I was a Quark junkie until I forced myself to start all new projects with InDesign. I learned it by recreating my old Quark files in CS3. Haven’t looked back since. I could see a market for Apple to offer a simplified photo manipulator and vector creator. Pages does a great job for the page layout crowd and I thank the heavens for Keynote. When someone hands me a Power Point project, Keynote comes on and makes it a breeze.

  7. nak says:

    Speaking of image editing, why do you put a watermark on images you didn’t create? Like screenshots and box shots. OK, it looks like you made the first one but the other two are press images taken from Apple’s site. Those should be attributed to Apple and not have your watermark on them:

    From http://www.apple.com/pr/produc

    You may not alter, or modify the Image, in whole or in part, for any reason.

    Oh, I see, you stuck a Windows logo on it. That’s a modification too.

  8. leigh says:

    Nak,

    Not my watermark, it’s put on there by the publishing software we use, and should no way imply our “ownership” of the image.

    All the images and trademarks remain the property of their owners, any modifications we may have made, are made under the fair-use doctrine.

  9. Andrew DK says:

    I agree with weatherguy. No way is iLife going PeeCee. iWork on the other hand… Well, that’s a hard one. What incentive would businesses have to purchase Macs if they can just get some cheap windows box and pay $70 for office software?

    I’m kinda torn; I can’t imagine iWork being leverage to buy a Mac like iLife is, but then again we are only talking about seventy dollars here. Plus, would having iWork run on windows be incentive to buy PCs or would it actually bring people over to the Mac?

    Ya know, I’m just gunna say no. I don’t think anyone at Apple wants to have to support a software suit on windows unless there was a significant advantage and to me it looks like a zero sum situation.

  10. Andrew DK says:

    Also, it’s usually “lather-rinse-repeat”.

  11. leigh says:

    Now see, I think people buy Macs for more than just the software, there is a certain Cache’ to being a Mac user that while intangible, does drive sales.

    My argument remains that all this “mac-like” experience on the PC does is to drive more mac sales ultimately. I mean, just because Mercedes engineered parts for Chrysler (when Daimler owned them both), didn’t hurt Mercedes’ brand or cannibalize their market share. And nobody wants to be the kid as school with the off brand tennis shoes.

    I am being persuaded on iLife thats such a fundamental part of the Mac experience, Apple would do just as well to sell those components or kill them off altogether.

    RE iWork pricing, I don’t see why it would be any different than it is for the Mac

  12. Jeff says:

    There are some interesting ideas in all of this, but it comes down to this: Why would Apple need to buy Corel to do any of this stuff?

    Isn’t this the same as saying that Apple couldn’t make an iPhone without buying Motorola? Or saying they can’t make iPhoto until they buy Adobe? In those examples they just went ahead and made the things themselves. Why would this be any different?

  13. Bill Olson says:

    I’m not an artist so I can’t add anything to the graphics part of this.

    WordPerfect, until Corel ***** it up was my favorite word processor. Actually it still is, but I stopped upgrading at WP 10 (I’ve got the full office but rarely use the other parts). I only use it on my work computer. The rest of the org uses Word. I only do when I have to.

    I would LOVE for Apple to get at least WordPerfect and maybe Quattro Pro, do a thorough cleaning of both to get them back to the basics and working the way they should as products that are very Apple while keeping the best of WordPerfect. I’d pay $99 for WordPerfect for Mac alone.

  14. cocoy says:

    yep. If Apple has the best chance of entering the Creative Suite space. It fits their business. It goes with the whole Final Cut business. I’d love for Apple or anybody for that matter to give Adobe a run for their money. Seriously, this whole Adobe mess wouldn’t be on if there was competition.

    With regard to an iWork for Windows, the first obvious response is “yes, most definitely any creative suite should target Windows”. It already has iTunes, Safari on there. Getting iWork would be a plus BUT here’s the but, It sounds like a defeating cause. if i was a windows user and i had all these great apple software on board, why would i have to make the switch? i’d think it be one more compelling reason not to switch.

    Apple doesn’t necessarily need to buy Corel. For example I’d buy Pixelmator: a subtle signal to Adobe. It is light enough that it doesn’t necessarily speak “pro,” but holds the threat against Adobe in the long term. “Play nice or else we might just develop this to really compete against you”.

    Apple may not have the expertise, but I’d think given OS X, given iWork, Aperture, iLife, they already have most of the technology needed to enter the Office and Creative Suite business. I think another reason why Adobe isn’t so keen on accelerating software development for their Mac line is that they’re focused on webservices.

    I totally agree with the notion that Apple or someone else needs to enter the creative suite fray and take on Adobe. There has to be competition in that space. I agree with the notion that Apple has the most to gain by entering this business, and that I hope they would.

  15. leigh says:

    Very nice comments all…

    One thing I did want to clarify with all this talk if iWork and iLife for windows (which was really just a scenario as to what to do with all the other IP from the acquisition) is that the iCreate application we describe, would of course be OS X only

  16. leigh says:

    cocoy and other Pixelmator advocates, you’re spot on. I was unaware of Pixelmator when I wrote the article… It seems like a real starter (I’m going to buy a copy just to play with).

    Of course I’m kinda glad I didn’t know about it when I wrote the article, it is would have greatly shortened it to: “Apple should buy Pixelmator. The end.” **grins**

  17. leigh says:

    So lets expand the game somewhat, if Apple were to buy Pixelmator, what other independent 3rd party applications should they also buy to give them the full work-flow.

    Assuming Pixelmator for image editing, we still need the illustration and web publishing platform at a minimum.

    We’ll take all the recommendations and publish a follow up to be titled “Apple’s potential Answer to CS3”.

  18. imajoebob says:

    Buying WordPerfect – not Corel – is a slam dunk. Mac users hate MS Office, not (only) because it’s Microsoft, but because it sucks. Apple sees their users shelling out a couple hundred bucks, but gets nothing. WP for Mac (only) means an extra 100 to 150 dollars for Apple. Walt Mossberg will love it, fanboys will wet their pants, and whether or not it’s actually better (which it wiil be), Windows users will get pissed off that they don’t have it. Apple revives the Switch campaign, but targets Office this time.

    As for Corel and Adobe, which do you buy: the product that’s on life support, or the one that keeps developing, even if it currently is a mess? If Apple wants to buy a graphics package it should buy Adobe. It already has the Apple look and feel, they just need to clean up and consolidate the mess. Plus, it’s already written for the Mac, with a long history. They don’t even have to tie up a lot of their current people to fix it. Just grab whatever is left from Macromedia and put them in charge. They can do a “Dreamweaver Suite” makeover on all the Photoshop parts. If they kill the Windows version they can likely pick up another point or two in Mac market share.

    So, WP is a must! It can only enhance the “Apple Experience” and increase converts. And current Apple users, who spend $130 every two years to upgrade OS X, whether they need to or not, will flock to it, doubly happy because it’s somehow better to make Steve even more obscenely rich than making Bill any richer.

    If Apple wants to buy a graphics app instead of building one, then Adobe is the best choice, hands down. If Corel demands an all-or-nothing buyout, buy ’em. Then sell Paint or just pull the plug. Then buy Adobe as well. As for Paint, at least the Mac platform, it can best be explained by paraphrasing Mr. Scott: “Sir, it’s dead already.”

  19. babaroo says:

    I miss Freehand.

  20. Brando says:

    Apple wants to have the same apps on Windows and OSX to have more switchers and increase Mac sales.
    Corel is a very Windows-centric software house, and except for Draw and Painter isn’t very interesting for Apple to buy it. (maybe Apple can buy only Painter)
    Apple need something like Freehand (why Apple didn’t buy it before Adobe-Macromedia fusion?), VectorDesigner, Kimbo or, better, something completely different and new.

  21. Doug says:

    Quark. Not to compete with photoshop but to compete with indesign. Buy Quark, then meld some of the quark team with the Aperture team and build a product that will work seamlessly with both Quark and Aperture. they’ve already got video apps that compete head to head with Adobe products, they’ve got a great audio product that could be tweaked to push out a professional version, they’ve got most of what they need. They should design their own photoshop killer, make Quark more Mac, and throw it all together in a suite with Final Cut Pro. FCP, Quark, iPhotoPro (or some better name), Aperture, GarageBand Pro, and maybe a pro version of that web app: iCreate!

  22. Josh says:

    I use CorelDraw daily for my job and I would love to see it put onto a Mac. But I’m not talking a port. They did that before and from what I hear it was horrendous. Corel knows they can’t, and they’re right. I rather run VMWare Fusion and use the Windows version than deal with a crappy native port. But if Apple took over, made it function as smoothly as any of the iLife programs i could ditch my virtualized PC altogether. I do use Photoshop for the Mac and I have to say it’s my slowest app, please note I have an iMac 24″, 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, with 4 GB of memory. It seems to have the most problems opening and saving. Why is this? I’ve used CorelPaint before but I wasn’t impressed, hence why I stick with Photoshop. It’s slow but works. Corel needs to die or be reborn and Apple would be my pick for a company to bring them to Macs natively and to make them work a lot more intuitively!