A couple of Apple reps were by recently touting the new Podcast Producer 2 server product. If you’re not familiar with Podcast Producer 2, it basically lets you do audio and video capture, as well as camera control and some nifty workflow creation (for doing things like automatically stamping video with copyright info and a watermark). It’s not a bad product from a design standpoint, except that it has what I consider a critical weakness in most Apple server products–it’s designed to force you to buy a lot of over-priced Apple hardware. Here’s what Apple envisions for a typical classroom with A/V capture:
1 Mac Mini to drive the lecture station, show slide shows, etc ($700)
1 Mac Mini connected to a camera to control video/audio capture ($700)
1 video camera ($200)
1 microphone ($100)
1/6 of an Apple XServe ($1,000)
That’s $2,700 per classroom, based on my rough estimations, or about $2,000 more than it should cost. The extras are all in the Apple hardware–most of which is unnecessary. How can I be sure of this? For one thing, the second Mac Mini is superfluous, except that Podcast Producer 2 is incompatible with network video cameras. This isn’t a technology limitation–I’m currently running streams from network cams such as those made by Axis into QuickTime Streaming Server on Mac OS X Server. Why can’t I use those same cameras with Podcast Producer? Because Apple wants to sell me an extra Mac Mini to control the camera, that’s why.
It’s things like this that make me so opposed to encouraging Apple products in the enterprise. If Apple just made good products (they do) that worked well with whatever hardware you have (they don’t), then they would be a real player in the enterprise. But since they have taken the route of limited hardware (under the guise of interoperability concerns), I am less than enamored with Podcast Producer 2, for the same reason I dislike many Apple products.