Apple Pro Apps Revenue: 2005-2014

Monday, 28 July 2014

For many years most users of Apple's 'Pro Apps' assumed that they were a loss leader for high-end Macintoshes. Very light copy protection meant that many students pirated the software, but that wasn't a problem for Apple. 99.9% of Final Cut Pro users needed a Mac to run the software.

These days Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X users may love their software, but many are worried that Apple might discontinue them at any moment. Pro Apps are such a small contributor to Apple's bottom line, and the transition from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X has left many people gun-shy. They don't want to bet their livelihood on an ecosystem that Apple may abandon at a whim.

Here's a look at how much revenue Apple probably gets from selling Pro Apps, some worries might be alleviated.  

I saw an article by Horace Dediu of showing the elements that went towards the iTunes group at Apple. Here's one of the graphs:



I took the Pro Apps line item and scaled it up to have a look at Pro Apps quarterly revenues from late 2005 to mid-2014:


Here’s how Apple's Pro Apps launches may have affected quarterly revenues.

March 2006: Intel version of Final Cut Studio (5.1) - not much effect on revenue, the upgrade cost $49.

April 2007: Final Cut Studio 2 and Final Cut Server - a small increase: adding a colour correction application to the suite didn't seem like a big deal revenue-wise, and Final Cut Server didn't ship until April 2008.

September 2007: Logic Studio

There were no big Pro App updates in the first quarter of 2008, but the uptick in Pro Apps revenues could be associated with the January launch of the first new Mac Pro since July 2006.

In 2009, Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio were updated at the start of the 2nd quarter - the following two quarters were down on the first two. January saw the launch of the first 'Unibody' MacBook Pro and February the cheaper 'Nehalem' Mac Pro range. 

It seems the only Pro Apps relevant event in the first half of 2010 was the February release of Aperture 3, but perhaps wider availability of the Core 2 Duo 27" iMac in the first quarter gave Pro Apps a boost. 

Final Cut Pro X was launched in the middle of 2011 - a completely new application that shared only a name with Final Cut Pro 7. After hardware supported first half of the year, Pro Apps revenue went down in the second half.

There was a big leap in revenue in the first quarter of 2012 - coinciding with an update to Final Cut Pro X that many saw as the first  version that started to satisfy Final Cut Pro 7 users. Version 10.0.3 added Multicam clip editing and A/V output amonst other features. Despite the next major version of Final Cut Pro X being released in October, Pro Apps revenue dropped back to the previous year's level. This may have been due to slower Mac Pro sales prompted by Tim Cook's message that the Mac Pro would be updated later in 2013.

That makes the figures for 2013 seem odd. Why did the Pro Apps revenue suddenly rise at the start of the year? The usual fall back in revenue in Q3 was probably offset by the launch of Logic Pro X in July. Since launch it has been in the top two of the App Store 'Top 10 Grossing' chart.

The last quarter is a different story. Lots of pent-up demand for the new Mac Pro (and a major update to Final Cut Pro X) resulted big revenue. These Q4 sales probably reduced the sales that would have happened in Q1 of 2014.

Despite Q2 falling back to 2013 levels, it looks like the relatively small Pro Apps teams are producing tools that will soon contribute almost $2bn a year. Not much compared with most other parts of Apple, but enough to justify keeping the current Apple definition (as mentioned in press releases) the same:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.


Update 1

Following requests, here's how's figures compare with the revenue results over the same time period for Avid and Adobe:


I used an alternate scale for Adobe as their figures include revenue for all their apps and services. Note that increases in Adobe figures here are twice those of Avid and Apple Pro Apps.

I'll leave it up to others to comment on what caused the changes in fortune for Avid and Adobe.


Update 2

Before publishing this post, I contacted Asymco to ask for precise figures, but there was no response. Following some debate on the Creative Cow Apple FCPX or Not: The Debate forum, Marcus Moore got in touch with Horace Dediu via Twitter.

Marcus reported a little more in his post on the forum. websites