Saturday, June 25, 2011

Apple Slams Door in Face of Professionals

As the new Apple slogan goes, Everything did "just changed in post". But not for the better.

I have to advise a few TV networks next week what to do next now that the Final Cut Pro X video editing software has finally appeared. We were so looking forward to it. But the picture above illustrates the path you need to take as a current Final Cut Pro professional user. For my clients and myself, it's more like Mission Impossible.

Conan's editing team sums up the frustration in the professional world.

Clearly the message to my clients is not to even THINK of upgrading at the moment. It may be a better and faster editor for simple cut and paste jobs. But this is NOT a network product and it ignores the millions of dollars already spent in FCP legacy projects which can't be imported into the new version (at least not yet). There is also a global shortage of trainers who can share the new interface with others. For the moment, they can charge a premium.

I agree with others that they should have launched this product as iMovie Plus, ironed out the bugs and then built a conversion path for the "professional" community, including automatic import of legacy FCP projects and a corporate strategy for installing the product and supporting over a network. Only then should they have dreamed of coming out with something called Final Cut Pro. If the legacy plug-ins for FCP don't work in the new FCPX, then many of the plug-ins like VIZRT graphics are going to be useless, so I won't be recommending it yet for the newsrooms in Europe and the Middle East I advise. I wonder if Apple will do this themselves or find a third party who wants to take this further. The global audience of craft editors is nothing compared to the numbers of people who simply want to assemble a few shots for a YouTube or Vimeo story.

This false and failed launch is one hell of a shame. I notice that Apple has pulled out of many of the broadcast trade-shows on the grounds that they sell more FCP licences retail than to professional networks. But they also stopped listening to thousands of broadcast journalist freelancers who have become economically dependent on one editing program, almost always work as a team often not co-located. Avid, Adobe and Quantel must be celebrating like crazy this weekend. But will they reduce their prices to stimulate defection in this segment? I doubt it.

Of course there is always a cry from the professionals when something changes as radically as this. Some of the cries are unfounded as this post in the New York Times reveals. But the things Apple has taken out (for now) and the inability to read legacy FCP files are the nail in the coffin for me for this release.

Will heads roll at Apple on this one? I certainly hope so. Talk about slamming the door in millions of faces, most of whom have spent decades trying to convince bosses that FCP was the preferred platform (and Apple Mac the operating system). Will Apple admit to a marketing blunder of such mega proportions, rather akin to Coke's New Coke failed marketing scheme from 1985? Will they tell us how long they will support FC7?  I expect not.

Will they fix the issues raised in this and other articles? I believe they have to and fast if the word Pro is worthy of remaining in the name.

Credit: Photo of Grand Canyon by Stewart Morris. Used under Creative Commons.

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