December 7, 2020 | My name is Heidi and I want to make
DVDs. As a longtime Mac user, I want to do my authoring on the
Mac. So I want to buy DVDirector, a reputedly good Mac DVD authoring
program developed by a German company called Astarte. The trouble
with this seemingly simple premise, however, is that Apple, Inc.
bought Astarte GmbH last April and DVDirector has not been heard
of since. Then again, is anything involving Apple ever simple?
My first stop: Apple.com. I click and click through software
options, multimedia options, anything that mentions DVDs. No luck.
A search of the site turns up a two-paragraph press release dated
April 10 about the purchase of Astarte. It tells me to click for
more information. I do so and am redirected to the Public Relations
site. There is nothing more on Astarte or their software products.
Refusing to give up, I write the following email to product support:
I have searched your site for information about DVDirector,
but have found only a press release regarding the purchase of
Astarte in April. Do you sell Astarte's software via Apple.com?
If not, could you please direct me a Web site that does?
A day later, I received the following response:
Subject: Response to your Request
RE: Tell Us: Products
Thank you for your correspondence concerning Apple's acquisition
of the DVD authoring technology, products, and engineering team
from Astarte GmbH. At this time, Apple has no further information
to provide about this acquisition. Or Astarte products. Apple
may release information to the public when it is in a position
to do so.
Thank you for your interest in Apple products. We appreciate
Needless to say, this is not a terribly satisfying response.
What did they do, toss all the boxes of DVDirector into the trash
My next strategy is to call 1 800 MY APPLE, the phone number
listed on Apple.com. The first person I speak to, "Mike," had
never heard of DVDirector and re-directed me to a software division.
He also kindly gave me a direct line to software central in case
I got disconnected. "Francis," in software, suggested I download
QuickTime. Guess Francis is unaware of the chasm between Apple's
quaint little movie playback software and high-end DVD authoring
software. After explaining exactly I what was looking for, Francis
informed me that DVDirector is not available for purchase. Apple
is reworking the software, he said. He thinks it will be available
mid-January. It most likely won't be called DVDirector, but the
new name is not yet known, nor are any of the product specifications
known. Curious, I ask Francis if he knows of any place still selling
DVDirector. I also ask if Apple provides technical support for
pre-Apple versions of DVDirector. Francis kindly gives me MacMall's
toll-free-number and Apple's pre-sale technical support number.
Add "Jason" at MacMall to the list of those who haven't heard
of DVDirector. Jason also wisely points out the fact that MacMall
doesn't sell high-end software. The pre-sale technical support
number Francis gave me has changed and offers a forwarding number
for general technical support. I decide to call Apple software
again. "Donald" puts me on hold. He can find no information about
the product and gives me the number for Customer Relations. Customer
Relations gives me the number for G4 technical support, as that
would be the system I'd be running DVDirector on if I could find
it. I call tech support and--par for the course--my call can't
be answered due to technical difficulties. A recording gives me
two choices: visit Apple's Web site, or to call back later.
On my second attempt, "Dave" answers my call. He checks his
computer for anything relating to DVDirector. He's stumped. For
20 minutes, Dave searches various Web sites and search engines
for information about this program. When I tell him what Francis
said, he says everyone probably got an email about DVDirector
months ago along with hundreds of other emails. He finally puts
me on hold to query his coworkers. Turns out none of them knows
about Apple's purchase of Astarte. No one has ever heard of DVDirector.
Dave searches Apple.com and encounters the same press release
I did. He's determined to get to the bottom of this, but he keeps
digging and finds nothing. Finally, he suggests I contact Public
Relations. I must admit that in my many online shopping efforts,
I have never been directed to call Public Relations. I wasn't
looking for spin, here; I was looking for DVDirector.
As a last resort, I call Apple one last time and ask--"Judy"
this time--if Apple sells any DVD authoring products, or can recommend
any to me. She seems confused as to whether I was asking for software
or not. She suggests I go to the Apple Web site, click on Made4Mac
and search there. I gently inform her that I have already scoured
their Web Site with no success and that is the reason for my call.
Judy tells me she has only sold a limited amount of software to
go to the Web site. So I hang up and try the Web Site one more
time. No luck, quelle surprise.
Mike, Francis, Donald, and Dave were all patient, friendly,
and willing to help; Judy's heart was in the right place but she
was just poorly informed. Too bad Apple, Inc. doesn't feel compelled
to communicate to them, much less the buying public, what its
plans for DVDirector--and DVD in general--might be. Maybe they'll
spring it on the MacWorld when it gathers in San Francisco in
January. Who knows?