The NLE sales surprise no-one predicted?

The present and future of post production business and technology by Philip Hodgetts

One thing that fascinates me are numbers: not for their own sake, but for what they reveal. While re-reading John Buck’s excellent Timelines2 (recommended reading for anyone who is interested in the history of the NLE, volume 2 takes us just past the release of Final Cut Pro 1) I came across some interesting numbers, particularly juxtaposed with a post titled Adobe Claims “Industry Leadership” in Video Editing with 2.5 Million Users. Remembering that Apple have claimed 2 million “seats” of Final Cut Pro (1-7). And I’m pretty sure Avid have sold a few copies of Media Composer, Sony copies of Vegas, and Grass Valley aren’t in the Edius business for giggles. So, somewhat more than 2 million NLE users in our modern world.

What fascinates me about that is that John Buck quotes Final Cut Pro 1 Product Manager Andrew Baum – in April 1999 at the launch of FCP 1 – as explaining to the press:

The 60 million websites out there are going to be 60 million broadcast stations. Apple can realistically sell 25,000 units worldwide, at full price, by 2001.

So, in two years from April 1999, Apple expected to sell 25,000 units of Final Cut Pro 1. By July 2009, Phil Schiller stated that there were 1.4 million “and 50 percent of the market”. At the expected rate of 25,000 units in two years, the extrapolation would be 125,000 in 10 years, but it was more than 10 times that amount. (Now, that figure takes into account sales of Motion, Soundtrack Pro, Cinema Tools and Compressor when they were stand-alone, and it also includes Final Cut Express sales.) read more...

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