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Apple the favorite amongst European post production pros

Apple Computer had one of the busier booths at last week's IBC content creation and management forum and is by far the favorite solution provider for the European post production market, according to one research and investment firm.

After attending the Amsterdam-based conference and speaking to 35 post production professionals, PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster said 83 percent of those pros are expecting to spend the same amount or more on post production tools in 2007 as they did in 2006.

Those pros who expect to spend more in 2007 have budgets that place Apple spending at the top, according to the analyst. The combined budget breakdown from his survey is as follows: Apple (42 percent), Autodesk M&E (33 percent), Avid (21 percent), and other (17 percent).

While Final Cut —Apple's primary post production video editing software —is not seen by Munster as a critical part of the Apple Story, he said he does think it is a way for Apple to continue to expand its footprint and entice potential customers into buying a high-end Mac Pro desktop system.

"Of the 60 percent of post pros who use Apple's Final Cut, only 11 percent indicated that they had switched from Avid to Apple," he wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. "Most (89 percent) Final Cut users started on the product or switched from a non-Avid product to Final Cut."

By his estimates, sales of Final Cut currently account for less than 3 percent of Apple's revenue. (With the company on its way to a $20 billion year, 3 percent would represent roughly $600 million in sales.)

Overall, Munster said spending trends amongst European pros is up from last year's survey when only 53 percent said they were expecting spending to rise or remain flat in 2006. "We believe this is likely the result of demand for HD content intensifying in Europe," he wrote.

The analyst said nearly 70 percent of the pros he spoke with are currently employed in some form of HD editing. Those working with HD said an average of 28 percent of their total projects used the high-definition format.

"At last year's IBC tradeshow, post pros indicated that 22 percent of their work was in HD," Munster wrote. "This is similar to what we heard from U.S. based post pros when we spoke with 20 at the NAB tradeshow in April. Specifically, at NAB, post pros said that 25 percent to 35 percent of their work was being done in HD."

Munster maintains an "Outperform" rating on shares of Apple with a price target of $99.