Pinnacle Gobbles Steinberg [Updated]

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Date: Thursday, December 19th, 2002, 12:25
Category: Archive

It’s deja vu all over again. The California video/digital media giant Pinnacle Systems has announced it’s acquiring Hamburg-based music software developer Steinberg, the makers of popular Mac audio software Cubase SX and Nuendo. (Thanks to an astute reader for pointing this out!) That means, out of the four MIDI/audio workstations for the Mac, only one (MOTU‘s Digital Performer, remains that hasn’t been acquired by a video production-related company. Or looking at it another way, each of the three desktop video production companies owns their own digital audio software company: Avid owns Digidesign, Apple owns Emagic, and now Pinnacle will own Steinberg as of next month. My guess is Steinberg made themselves especially ripe for the picking by beefing up Nuendo as a major competitor to Pro Tools — so far, probably the only real competitor to Pro Tools software in certain markets. MOTU will likely remain independent because its main market remains individual musicians, less so big studios and production companies. (And there’s nothing wrong with that, which is why DP is so popular with bands and film composers.)

Is this bad news for Steinberg’s Mac customers? Will Pinnacle pull a reverse-Apple and make Steinberg’s products PC-only. I doubt it. Pinnacle has a huge Mac business, as does Steinberg, and in all the Apple-Emagic press an important point has been missed: Steinberg has had very strong Mac OS X support with Cubase SX’s release this fall and Nuendo’s release coming soon (Nuendo just went public beta for OS X today). I think the reality is that audio applications are key to production in all kinds of markets, but that independent companies have had difficulty going it alone — outside investors open up lots of possibilities, and video revenue streams (or an entire computer maker’s revenue in the case of Apple) make R&D investments easier. And synergy between audio products and video make audio companies start to look very desirable.

Correction: I mistakenly said that Nuendo was released concurrently for Mac OS X. Readers were quick to point out I was completely wrong. I was actually basing this claim on an interview with Steinberg I did in 2001; in fact, Steinberg had Carbonized Nuendo in spring 2001 (hence my confusion) but has not made it OS X-compatible until now. As of yesterday (Fri.) the OS X version hit public beta, and release is expected soon. -PK

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