Breaking: Final Cut Pro X is an Apple product


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?

  1. The first release is missing some features that conventional industry wisdom would consider critical.
  2. There is virtually no communication about future plans.
  3. 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.

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9 Responses to Breaking: Final Cut Pro X is an Apple product

  1. John Young says:

    What you write is true, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that “Apple just being Apple” means that they will eventually add back in everything that professional users want or need. You happen to be optimistic that it’s coming. I think some will be coming, I’m just not sure things are coming back with the high-end professional in mind, given the implied messages that have been sent so far with this release. I think they should have called this the new FC Xpress. It would have solved the messaging problem. (That’s assuming they do intend to add back a lot of the professsional features.)

    Also, remember, they did continue “selling” the Classic virtual machine for years.

  2. Chris Kenny says:

    Apple has already told Studio Daily, Philip Hodgetts and David Pogue that they are, in fact, adding back video output, multicam, and XML or something that serves the same role. And Hodgetts was already saying this stuff in a post he wrote the day FCP X was released, so this clearly isn’t Apple reacting to the outrage. It’s just yet another example of Apple shipping a first-generation product with a smaller feature set than others would have.

    I am a little baffled that Apple didn’t decide to leave Final Cut Studio 3 on sale for the next 6-12 months, but in light of the above, simple overzealousness with respect to pushing the new product seems like a better explanation than Apple deliberately trying to sabotage Final Cut in pro markets.

  3. John Young says:

    Well, they sort-of implied that AJA had already added that capability and more vendors were coming soon. The AJA solution doesn’t work for me unless they refine it to support two computer monitors and a video monitor. I’ve just started playing with FCPX and like the look of the interface, but it’s way too inefficient for a single computer screen (for me .)

    Multicam I could understand taking a while to implement, and I feel like they’ve been forthcoming about adding it.

    I’m glad for all of the outrage, though, because it’s the only way to prompt Apple to act or speak. The way they handle things is fine for consumer electronics, but I don’t really like dealing with it with my work tools. That’s the thing that may move me more back towards Avid. I know they aren’t perfect, and they don’t just announce everything they are going to do either, but I’m reasonable confident that high-end users will be a top-priority rather than a “nice-to have.”

  4. John Young says:

    Also, for me, it’s not a question of “deliberate sabotage.” Rather it’s either not understanding FCP in pro markets, or a change of focus away from pro markets.

  5. Chris Kenny says:

    I’m guessing the video output issue is related to the current capabilities of AV Foundation, Apple’s new media framework for the post-QuickTime era. This may be resolved with Lion. Blackmagic has said FCP X doesn’t have all the features they need yet to support video output. If the approved final video output mechanism were the one AJA has already adopted, that couldn’t be the case, since obviously that’s possible already, so this implies there’s something else coming.

    It’s not clear to me the outrage was required to get Apple to speak, since they were already telling these things to Hodgetts even before release.

    As far as Apple not understanding FCP in pro markets, I think it’s more a matter of Apple not necessarily having an interest in being the most accommodating company in the world than Apple actually not understanding what people want. Realistically, copies of FCS3 will be available to people who really need them for the foreseeable future even without Apple selling it directly or shipping more copies into the channel; Apple knows this and simply doesn’t care about the additional inconvenience of not being able to purchase direct.

    • Cris Daniels says:

      How do you still buy a legit licensed copy of FCS3? Because retailers I have spoke to say its gone, the Apple stores I have spoken with say they don’t sell it any more. Its gone from the Apple website as far as I can tell.

      After working with FCP X this weekend it is clear that they are not wanting to do much other that lock you into their “new way of editing”.

      Besides all the missing features such as multiclip, where is the ability to edit in anything other than prores? I work in broadcast, we dont and cant turn everything in to ProRes for a lack of storage, lack of need, and lack of time.

      I have no faith that Apple intends to “add it all back in”. This is not the reaction they wanted or expected and it would have not shipped half complete for professional use.

      • Peter Wiley says:

        I ordered the the FCS upgrade from B&H last week. This morning the upgrade is listed by B&H as “discontinued.”

        They still seem to have full FCS 3 available for sale.

        • Cris Daniels says:

          Right that is for now until they get rid of the inventory which Apple would probably prefer to get back. Official policy is that FCS3 is pulled.

  6. Steve says:

    Apple is obviously going for the millions of wanna be indie filmmakers with the cheap fcpX rather than the thousands of pros. Just as Panasonic, Sony and Canon whip out latest greatest low cost cameras for that market it is Apple’s intent to cash in too. I’ve been with apple from day one, defending them against the PC clowns, but I’ve got to tell you that I hate apple for disrespecting me and the other pros.

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