I mention this because some people are acting as if they are unaware of this fact. What are the three major complaints about the FCP X rollout?
- The first release is missing some features that conventional industry wisdom would consider critical.
- There is virtually no communication about future plans.
- Backwards compatibility has been sacrificed on the alter of innovation.
You see where I’m going here, yes? A lot of people have tried to explain these three data points with the theory that FCP X is deliberately abandoning the professional market and/or that Apple is simply clueless about what features high-end pros need. But no such theory is required. All of this is entirely normal behavior for Apple, Inc. Examples abound, including in key markets that nobody could possibly argue Apple didn’t care about.
With respect to the first point, for instance, iOS initially shipped without copy & paste, third-party app support, multitasking, Exchange support, over the air updating, MMS, tethering support, etc. all of which conventional wisdom said one couldn’t ship a smartphone without. The first iPhone hardware lacked GPS and 3G. The first iPad lacked a camera, which many considered a basic feature, and the iPad 2 still lacks USB ports.
With respect to the second point, virtually the only time Apple talks about future products significantly before a product’s release date is when developers have to have time to prepare for them or when, for some reason (required FCC filings for the iPhone, for instance), it would be impossible to keep them secret. There are no FCC concerns here, and while there are a few developers Apple might want to bring into the fold with respect to future FCP X developments, this can be done quietly.
With respect to the third point, all you have to do is look at how Apple handled its transition to a fully modern OS vs. how Microsoft handled its transition. Microsoft’s approach was far more gradual, and eventually brought old apps over in a way that felt ‘native’. Apple cut the cord and stuck the old OS in the Classic virtual machine, where there was no attempt to make old apps behave like native apps. Apple is also being relatively aggressive dropping Rosetta (PPC emulation) from OS X — it’s gone in Lion. Apple has simply never had much interest in extensive backwards compatibility efforts; they’ll do the minimum required, and in this case that means allowing FCP 7 to be installed alongside FCP X.
The way the FCP X rollout has been handled has nothing to do with Apple slighting pro users — it’s just Apple being Apple. It’s annoying as hell sometimes, but while it’s temping to believe Apple could discard these behaviors and deliver equally successful products, I’m not sure that’s actually the case.