After acquiring the IRIDAS Adobe is in a perfect position now to replace the now EOLed Final Cut Studio as a preferred suite of applications for editing and now relatively low cost finishing. This is also what is most likely to happen, even though personally I would love Premiere Pro, After Effects, Lightroom, Photoshop, Audition and now SpeedGrade to be integrated in one single seamless application a la Smoke. I am obviously not the only person to think about that (see comments here), nor even the first one by any stretch of imagination.
Here is however why I don‘t think it will happen though. For one, recent changes in pricing and the fact that Adobe software has became very affordable for new businesses and startups is something that the company is not going to strike out by building a single finishing application encompassing the functionality of the whole suite. Arguably the fact that you can essentially rent a single specific tool for your job for next to nothing is one of the things that makes Adobe software more popular than ever. This business model would be seriously undermined by conversion of the suite to a single application, and this is what actually none of us think would be a wise thing to do.
Secondly, the architectures of After Effects and Premiere Pro – not even mentioning Audition – seem to be quite different. Even though Adobe has gone to great lengths to ensure proper translation of projects between the applications, there is a realm of difference between this and actually merging the two together in a Smoke-like manner. Don’t get fooled by the similarities of the interface. The engines running these two are quite different, and to actually enclose one in another might be impossible without rewriting most of the code. Adobe already did that while creating 64-bit applications, and there is hardly any incentive to do that again, especially since their time for development has actually shortened due to the “dot half” releases.
The only sensible way to approach this is to create a new application from scratch, but that would be essentially duplicating the features of already existing programs without any real benefit to the business, and at at least twice the cost. This is not something that is going to happen without a serious incentive to do so. Perhaps incorporation of SpeedGrade into the suite might be such a good pretext, but it all depends on the underlying architecture of the program itself, and is not going to happen soon, so don’t hold your breath until CS7 or even CS8.
I bet that in the short term we will see the remake of SpeedGrade’s interface to suit more the CS family, perhaps a few more options will be added, and a “Send to…” workflow will be established between Premiere, After Effects and SpeedGrade, perhaps with the addition of plugin a la recent Baselight development for the old FCP. This is what is feasible to expect in CS6. SpeedGrade will be able to see and render all Premiere and After Effects effects, transitions etc., due to the incorporation of either Dynamic Link or the standalone renderers that already are present in Adobe Media Encoder, and hopefully will be able to merge projects from Audition as well.
Perhaps a new common project file format will be born, independent of any application, akin to the container, where each application reads and works only on its own parts, and it all comes together in SpeedGrade (finishing), Bridge (playback) or even AME for export. And if nobody at Adobe is working on such an idea yet, then please start immediately, because this is exactly what is needed in the big shared workflows. This format would get rid of the some of the really annoying problems of the Dynamic Link, and would open a lot of possibilities.
In the long run we might see a birth of a new Ubertool – a true finishing app from Adobe, and if a container-project idea is embraced, the workflow might even be two-way. I would imagine that this tool would also incorporate some management ideas from recently demonstrated Foundry Hiero, like versioning, conforming, or even preparing material to send to Premiere Pro, AE, Audition, etc. for other artists. Because Adobe Suite does not need only the Color Grading software for completion. It needs a true project management and finishing application, and that would be an excellent logical step for Adobe to take, and then their workflow would really encompass all stages of pre-, post- and production proper. Which I hope will happen in the end.
One thing that I am sure Adobe will not do: they will not repeat the debacle of FCPX. The new Ubertool might be able to do all that other apps do, and probably more, perhaps even better, but they will not fade the smaller tools out of existence immediately, if ever, and everyone will be able to talk to each other as seamlessly as possible.