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Wednesday, January 24, 2007, 09:00 pm PT (12:00 am ET)

Initial Photoshop CS3 feedback encouraging for pro Mac sales

Experts at the financial research firm PiperJaffray said on Wednesday that a wave of positive feedback on the Photoshop CS3 beta is a harbinger of much stronger Mac sales waiting in the wings.

As part of two separate research notes for investors, PiperJaffray's Gene Munster and Michael Olson noted that testers of the new photo editor were overwhelmingly in favor of the changes made since the CS2 edition and that the software was likely to have a "measurable positive impact" on Apple's pro computer sales. If released during the expected mid-spring window, they say the suite could boost Apple's total marketshare as much a full percentage point in combination with other factors.

This is due in no small part to Apple's dependence on creative pros, the analysts said. They claimed in the notes that roughly 15 percent of all Mac owners use at least one Adobe program as the backbone of their careers. Munster and Olson also pointed to an almost deafening level of requests for an Intel-native update to the Creative Suite as the primary reason so many Mac users were keeping their wallets closed.

"My company was ready to get 2 new Mac Pros," wrote one user quoted by the research firm. "But I recommended against [them] until CS3 is out. We can't run at half (quarter?) speed for months until they get their act together."

Thankfully for both Adobe and Apple, feedback on the Photoshop CS3 beta released last month was uniformly positive, according to PiperJaffray's data. An astounding 88 percent of respondents said they were pleased at some level with the overall quality of the beta, with 71 percent of the entire group saying it was "very satisfied." Surprisingly, not a single negative comment was received in the feedback.

Most of the testers studied by the financial group praised the sheer speed of the Photoshop build, even on PowerPC Macs that many thought would gain little from the transition to a Universal Binary. They also saw Adobe's new features, such as Smart Filters and automatic layer alignment, as genuinely useful.

To Munster and Olson, the early software seeds may bear real fruit for pro Mac sales when mixed with the rest of the CS3 release, which will be the first to see Fireworks and other ex-Macromedia applications interface directly with Adobe's software.

"Our belief is that the true value in CS3 is the collaborative workflow between the Adobe and Macromedia products," they said. "The real user excitement will not be apparent until Adobe releases the integrated suite."