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Articles: Final Cut Pro X - What was Apple thinking?

That's a question a lot of video editing professionals are asking in regards to the latest edition of Final Cut Pro recently released by Apple. By completely re-thinking the idea as to how video editing is done and re-working Final Cut Pro from the ground up, Apple has managed to tick off or alienate a reasonably large percentage of the professional editing population.

Which leads a whole lot of people to ask what in the world Apple was thinking, and why?

Keep in mind that I haven't used Final Cut Pro X yet (although I've used Final Cut Pro a fair amount over the years), and I'm no professional video editor. But I've read various articles and wandered through the lambasting FCP X has received in the App store, and in doing so, it's pretty clear that Final Cut Pro X easily could have been called iMovie Pro.

So why didn't Apple do that and just keep Final Cut Pro available?

My answer, which of course like everyone else's is based purely on speculation, is that Apple's decisions are often based on the personality of the company, as opposed to the traditional business reasons most companies consider when making their choices. At the core of Apple's very essence is the DNA that says, first of all, we won't be swayed or guided by public opinion, whether it be the experts in any given industry or the public at large. We will make cool products that are as easy to use as possible, and hope that a lot of people buy them.

The second aspect of this personality is that they almost never look back. Once a new product is out, the product it replaced is relegated to a sort of virtual garbage bin. To be sure, Apple is financially successful only as long as folks continue to buy new products on a regular basis. I think this idea has permeated their DNA, and guides a whole lot of what they do.

We also have to understand that the idea that Apple is obligated in any way to continue offering anything just doesn't hold water with Apple. In the case of Final Cut, they want everyone to be thinking about Final Cut Pro X. Any previous version is yesterday's news. And that's even if a group of professionals says "harumph" and goes running off to Avid or Adobe Premiere. You have to hand it to Apple, they adhere to a financial model I have preached to individuals for some time: Don't spend your time scrabbling around on the ground for pennies and nickels when there are dollars flying over your head. Avid and Adobe are surely delighted at the influx of pros into their business. And there's nothing wrong with that, because some companies make a very nice living taking care of the pennies and nickels.

Apple stands up and grabs the dollars. The pennies and nickels scream and whine and complain, but Apple can hardly hear 'em, because they're standing straight up and grabbing the dollars. In this case, the dollars are the far larger group of people who play around with video, or are getting a bit more sophisticated with video content creation than iMovie can handle. What with the huge amount of video being shot, often via cell phones and inexpensive digital cameras, not to speak of the gigantic forums of YouTube and the ability to post videos other places online, that segment is growing exponentially larger than the professional editing market, which is probably shrinking as a result of the same dynamics.

Whether or not Final Cut Pro X is a better program than previous versions is almost irrelevant. If only judged by the lower price and ease of use, it is in fact far more accessible to the masses.

Apple doesn't follow markets, it likes to create them. They then ignore the markets that very creation sometimes tramples, even if there were still a few pennies and nickels to add to the bottom line. They are profit driven to be sure, but that's trumped by being personality driven. I assume they believe that the profits come if the personality gets it right, which, for the last decade or so, it certainly has.

Despite all the derisive comments printed about Final Cut Pro X, it's really hard to second-guess Apple about anything of late, because more often than not they seem to understand the future better than most. Like a savant, they don't always communicate the whys and wherefores as to what they're doing, they just do it and let history take care of itself...

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