Gartenberg on Final Cut Pro X: Why Apple dares to change your apps

“Apple recently introduced the long-awaited update to its Final Cut Pro video-editing application,” Michael Gartenberg writes for Macworld. When the new version (now called Final Cut Pro X) was introduced, controversy ensued. I mean real controversy. In fact, I haven’t seen this level of user protest over a product change since the Coca-Cola company decided to mess with its time-tested formula and introduce New Coke to nearly universal disdain.”

“With the caveat that I’m not a professional video editor (but having spoke to those that are) I don’t think Apple made a terrible move with this revision,” Gartenberg writes. “Yes, some key features that some users depend on are missing—Apple has posted a FAQ that lists the most pressing issues and offers ideas for workarounds, what might be updated in future releases and what users will just have to live with.”

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Gartenberg writes, “But the overall experience is much friendlier to a prosumer user like me than previous versions were. The fact that the price is $299, not $999, is important as well. No matter your thoughts on the specifics of the app and what if offers, Apple’s moves here show a good deal about how Apple works, its overall strategy, and how it thinks about growing its business.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
IT Enquirer reviews Apple’s Final Cut Pro X: Very much a professional’s tool – July 8, 2011
Apple to allow additional Final Cut Pro 7 enterprise licenses; FCP X improvements coming soon – July 7, 2011
Former Avid employee on Final Cut Pro X: Only Apple seems capable of pushing boundaries – July 5, 2011
Why Apple built Final Cut Pro X – July 1, 2011
PC Magazine: Apple’s Final Cut Pro X makes serious leaps and bounds past its predecessor – June 30, 2011
Shake product designer explains Apple and Final Cut Pro X – June 29, 2011
Apple answers Final Cut Pro X questions; promises multicam editing and more – June 29, 2011 petition demands that Apple not change Final Cut Pro – June 27, 2011
Final Cut Pro X ‘backlash’ coming from competitors scared to death over Apple’s $299 price tag? – June 24, 2011
Conan blasts Apple’s new Final Cut Pro X (with video) – June 24, 2011
Answers to the unanswered questions about Apple’s new Final Cut Pro X – June 23, 2011
‘Professional’ video editors freak out over Final Cut Pro X – June 23, 2011
Apple revolutionizes video editing with Final Cut Pro X – June 21, 2011


  1. Every time Apple takes a huge step into the future, some people immediately jump to (often inaccurate) conclusions and shower the Intertubes with their rants. It’s really quite embarrassing.

    1. The wise thing for Apple to do would probably be to allow enough time for existing professional projects to complete without difficulties, and provide enough lead time for new projects and workflows to mature under FCPX.

  2. I think Apple should price it even lower so as quickly entice all the iMovie users into the fold and build a huge developer base for it. After that with a all the third party add-ons from developers, I think they would have the video editing market cornered including many of the pros.

    1. I wanted to buy a copy for dabbling with some videos I made while on vacation but was held back by the steep price. I’d buy a copy for sure if it costs $50.

      1. after actually playing with iMovie, I never have needed to edit video.

        I do like iMovie, and have been checking out the firestorm around FCPX.

        If it were $50… I’d own it also. $300 may be a huge price drop to the industry, but it’s beyond what i’d spend.
        I have seen the video’s of how FCPX works, and i must say it looks easy enough that a novice could use it.

      2. Once again, FCP has never costed $999.00. When FCP used to be available seperately it was always about $300.00. FCS – a complete suite of fully professional post production products was just under $1000.00.

    2. … on lowering the price, per se. How low would it have to be to entice someone who is willing to shell out $79 for iMovie? Or should that be iMovie, and iPhoto, AND iWeb*, AND GarageBand? $20 off? $40? $79?!?!? How about, instead, offer a $79-off “upgrade” price! Registered owners of iLife get to buy FCPX for $200.
      The down side would be further erosion of their consumer line-up. Without iWeb and, perhaps, iMovie, that would leave iPhoto and GarageBand – are they strong enough to stand on their own? At various times I’ve updated iLife pretty much to gain the changes to just ONE of the included apps. And I’ve only recently made use of more than one of the apps at a time. (lately I’ve been posting iMovie clips from my iPod to iWeb)
      *iWeb is reputed to be stranded, nay, abandoned, with MobileMe, in Apple’s Ancient History back-story.

  3. Personally, I think what we’re hearing on message boards across the internet are alot of opinions from people who don’t earn their living with FinalCut Pro. Apple is going after a much bigger market than professional film editors. Fine. But they’re hanging alot of customers out to dry (and earning themselves another big bag of ill will) in the process. Maybe Apple’s heavy-handed style will come back to haunt them, and maybe not. Time will tell.

  4. An article I read around the time Final Cut Pro X was released hit the nail on the head. Why should Apple try to keep the ~1000 real pro users (ie. the Hollywood crowd) happy to the detriment of tens of thousands of other users who will like FCP X?

    There’s also a good article out there by a former Avid employee who talks about how Avid tries left and right to keep these Hollywood folks happy to the detriment of the software with many asinine, and sometimes contrary, decisions about what features to include.

  5. At the end of the day it’s not like Apple sent out the goon squad and said “buy this.. Or else!” let’s be honest, the people who were using final cut pro 7 can continue to do so.. When final cut pro (1) was released I’m sure that it didn’t have a fraction of the features that the 7th iteration had! Final cut pro X WILL get better and better that’s the ONLY certainty that anyone can make about the software… Yes it’s obvious that this one is aimed at a much larger market.. Hence it won’t be the same as the previous ones.. Look at QT7 (pro) and QTX for a comparison..

    1. Yes, but a lot of the frustration are from users who spent years waiting for Final Cut Pro 8 to come out only to find not only that it will never come out, but that Apple secretly made that decision to kill 8 years ago and never told them.

      1. Why should users have an expectation that what they want to happen with a software upgrade will in fact happen?

        I’ve been hoping Microsoft Office would get faster all these years, but that never happened either. And it didn’t even get cheaper!

        1. The difference lies in how each company interacts with its customers. Microsoft communicates its decisions well in advance of a release (for better or worse.) Apple does not. Don’t get me wrong: I love how Apple turns the world on its heel so often, but it sometimes leaves people very angry. They have a right to be angry! When Microsoft left Visual Basic out of Office 2008 they told people ahead of time. When Apple left key features out of FCPX, there was no advance warning.

    2. Professionals need some stability. You can’t just throw out a new piece of software (having apparently never fixed the bugs in the current version to the satisfaction of many users), and expect those people to toss their legacy projects and workflow up in the air and see what happens. At the very least, Apple could continue to sell FCP7 for another year while professionals chew on FCPX a bit. They should also sell it at the same price as FCPX.

      My opinion is that Apple failed to adequately consider a small, but important part of their user base. That is particularly true since FCP is, by its very name, a *professional* application.

  6. Many readers here are annoyed at the complaints regarding the FCP X. And one of the common arguments is “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it; FCP7 will still work”.

    The core of the complaint is that core power users have, throughout last year, been hearing about the FCP update that will solve all of their problems with the FCP7. They patiently waited, then Apple released FCP X. Not only were their problems on FCP 7 not resolved, the entire application was changed and the new one even took some functionality away. So now, instead of having FCP 8 that took care of issues with FCP7, we have a cheaper, more limited offering. And solution to the problems of those pros is to stick with the existing version (bugs, problems and all) until the new FCP X eventually (re)gains feature parity at some unspecified future time.

    If Adobe or Microsoft pulled this kind of thing, you’d have the same volume of complaints (and MDN readers would be the loudest ones).

    1. Think Apple told nobody to wait for FCP 8. That’s just users speculating – you can’t blaim Apple for that!
      Innovation means making bold decisions once in a while – not to make small incremental steps (like all the Office upgrades for example).

    2. You and I don’t always agree. But I certainly do in this case. Apple should have released FCP8 with the bug fixes and enhancements from FCP7. If Apple was hot on getting FCPX out the door, then it could have done so later, after they had a chance to patch some of the omissions.

      Apple is a company that claims to have character, value customers, and think different. To me, thinking different than other companies means sticking by the people that stuck by you through the difficult times when there were many valid reasons for professionals to switch to the dark side. As an engineer, I faced great pressure to switch and I had to hold on to an old PowerMac for several more years to make it through those times with my computing platform of choice. Apple has over $60B in cash and marketable securities, and is in a position to show the love back to the people that helped keep Apple in business during the mid- to late-90s and through the early Mac OS X transition.

      Professionals need stability and a plan heading into the future. Professionals need to be able to smoothly transition from one version to the next with projects and workflows intact as much as reasonably possible. If Apple felt it necessary to make the jump to FCPX, then it should have done so in parallel to a final update to FCP7 to clean up the bugs and add a few features. That would have provided professionals with the opportunity to make a planned and orderly transition to FCPX when it matured sufficiently to make that possible.

      There are many types of users, SJ. Some of them need a little time to jump between innovations. Give them a little love and stability – Apple owes it to them and can certainly afford it.

      1. Time to put your money where your mouth is and THINK DIFFERENT.

        Kidding, kidding.

        But seriously, hasn’t Apple now relented and will keep FCP 7 on sale for a while?

  7. There have been plenty of inevitable and entirely valid criticisms of Final Cut Pro X. Apple have noticed and responded accordingly, clearly stating that improvements are on the way.

    So everyone who gets all bent out of shape when Apple is correctly criticized for their errors, please just STFU and stop pretending that YOU know what you’re talking about. THAT is quite embarrassing. Apple makes blunders just like all the rest of humanity. It doesn’t mean the world is ending or that “Apple sucks” or that trolls are coming to take away your children. Deal with it. 😕

    1. I think some of the improvements were stated as “on the way” prior to the actual release. But the FCPX bashers will not care… and bash it anyway.

      some of the things left out were due to the code change. which makes one ask, why didn’t they just wait a month or two?

      i don’t know. i still think 90% of the criticism of FCPX is in the minds of the FCP 7 users.

      1. It’s not so much bashing FCPX but bashing Apple’s decision to throw certain minority but highly creative users under the bus.

        I have read many valid complaints from quite a few pro editors (I’m not myself), and I am now convinced that Apple has indeed done them wrong. They have now no course left to them but to switch platform and relearn a new tool. FCP has been the industry leader (lead count by over 50%), this sudden maneuevre/stunt was unsuspecting and, dare I say, thoughtless.

        Good or bad, pro or prosumer bound, FCPX is a different application, and should have been named accordingly. That’s what has been at the heart of the problem. Please don’t oversimplify it by suggesting that some folks are bitching about FCPX, lumping them with the mouse haters, irrational iHaters, matte screen haters, etc. Some of these folks are/have/had been some of the best Apple fans and Apple war veterans.

        1. Why do they have to switch platforms now that FCP X is out? Instead of spending all that money on new systems and learning new software, carry on with FCP 7 and keep supplying Apple with critical feedback about FCP X. Apple is obviously listening and planning additional improvements.

          1. See those that are not happy with FCPX didn’t do their homework… they just wanted to say “FIRST!”

            it’s not like FCP 7 has a timebomb in the code that disables it the day FCPX was released…
            But if you listen to those complaining.. it sounds like it did.

            Granted i DO see some of the issues with FCPX, and i don’t even use it.. but some of the complaints are way out in left field.

          2. Some of them need to grow. Where are they going to buy more FCP7 licenses? Why can’t Apple continue to sell FCP7 for a while longer and give them a chance to choose when to switch? What is the real harm in that?

            1. Don’t get me wrong, i AGREE with that.

              they should sell the licenses for at least another year.
              stopping new licenses was pretty stupid, guess you could argue that Apple did put a timebomb of sorts in.

              But I also saw that those that did switch, were selling their licenses/seats whatever they call them. So there are ways around that problem, but Apple should not have stopped selling them. Start again, and drop the stupid refund for FCPX…

          3. I have found over the years that the best way to convert a Windows PC user is to let them do it themselves through exposure to the good side of computing. Forcing the issue is seldom effective.

            Professionals tend to be conservative with respect to change in the core elements of their business. They need time to evolve and adapt. Apple should have realized this ahead of time and avoided the fuss by continuing the sale of FCP7 (at the new lower FCPX price) for a while. This was an easily avoidable PR mistake, plain and simple.

  8. Apple has made a blunder, a notion I happen to agree with. Disclaimer: I’m not in video editing field, pro or otherwise, so my opinion on this is perhaps best taken well salted.

    Counting the highest levels of professional artists as your customers (I seem to recall the software and its contributions may have also been recognised by the academy of motion pictures) is a prestigious thing. Sometimes abandoning prestige for the “prosumer” bucks is not the best approach, particularly when they are not mutually exclusive.

    Dear Apple: name it something else (as has been recommended by many wise and caring), commit to sell FCP 7 for a few more years, as is and without support even, if necessary.

    This was a blunder; acknowledge it, rectify it, move on. This won’t portray you as weak, rather as a mature, wise and willing to improve company we all love and respect. Anything else is just so Thinking Indifferent!

  9. “With the caveat that I’m not a professional video editor (but having spoke to those that are)”…WHAT!?!?!? So mr. Gartenberg, your not a professional editor but you’ve had conversations with a few. Do you play a doctor on TV as well?

    Man, the Kool-aid is beginning to taste a little Jonestownsy.

    I think,

  10. I understand Apple can’t be “held back” by a minority of pro users. But it was the pro users who kept the faith and kept Apple in business during the dark times!

  11. It was disingenuous of Apple to use the Pro userbase in this way. Is it any wonder X has been so disparaged by the people who use 7 when it’s missing essential features for a pro workflow? Want to monitor on your broadcast monitor? Forget it – we think you don’t need to. Need to export an omf – it’s not built in – try a kludge workaround. XML – why do you need that?

    X is built as an all in one solution and that’s not how the majority of professionals work.

    If they’d named it something else that would have been honest, but it’s not called Final Cut Amateur, or Z or whatever because Apple wanted to trade on the reputation it had established.

    That reputation is destroyed in pro circles and maybe Apple doesn’t care, but judging by many of the comments on forums, it won’t be selling to the average weekend warrior at $299.

    1. “That reputation is destroyed in pro circles and maybe Apple doesn’t care,…”

      That’s interesting, but naive.

      Apple is a consumer-oriented business, who bought Final Cut, nee Keygrip from Macromedia, after everyone else turned it down because it was an off-the-shelf consumer application. It wasn’t until FCP 3 debuted in 2001, that the “pros” began to notice that people like Walter Murch and Roger Avary were using this QuickTime-based-off-the-shelf consumer application to edit feature films.

      The fact is, Apple never did much to promote FCP and if you were there from the beginning, you know that already. I can’t remember the last time Apple made an appearance at NAB.

      Where was the outrage when Apple’s intel-based FCP no longer supported After Effects plug-ins? Oh yeah, that small, but elite group of FCP users, consisting of maybe a hundred licenses, of which I was one, just sucked it up and kept moving forward.

      Everyone who is proclaiming Apple made a blunder and should admit it, doesn’t understand Apple, or Gretsky.

      Apple has leveled the playing field once again by providing the first QuickTime-based, 64-bit, off-the-shelf video editing solution for the masses and as a AAPL shareholder, I welcome the strategy.

      It’s not about professionals or consumers or money or market share, it’s about empowerment! It’s about providing Apple consumers another set of tools.

      Has anyone ever felt that Adobe marginalized its Photoshop pro user-base by bringing chops and channels to the masses? Every thing I know about Photoshop, I learned from the wizard, Kai Krause and that gave me the edge I needed to distinguish myself from every other image editor in the market.

      With each iteration of PS, they revealed all of the tricks behind the magic, by creating those damn filters! Now a days, anyone with PS can slog their way through an editing session and call themselves a pro.

      1. Whether it’s empowerment or not remains to be seen. Personally my workflow requires OMF export, colour grading and monitoring on a broadcast monitor – for obvious reasons. X was sold to the existing userbase as a replacement for 7, even though it’s missing features necessary for that userbase. To me Apple acted disingenuously by using this userbase to generate buzz for what is essentially a new app.

        Best wishes.

  12. Value perception: It seems that every nearly every new software/OS release since Apple’s been on the “watched stock” list has required a hardware upgrade if your system was more than 4 years old. (Gone are the days when a Mac could last you 8-10 years, even when upgrading software regularly)

  13. Apple screwed up…period. Listen, I’m a fan of Apple products but I’m also a pro sound and video editor and let me tell you from first hand experience…FCPX is a hunk of garbage. It’s buggy and it lacks necessary tools needed by the industry. It’s as simple as that. Avid MC5, PP CS5.5 and even Sony Vegas smoke it now when it comes to workflow and stability. Again, I like using the CS5.5 and MC5 on my Snow Leopard machine but it doesn’t compete with my Windows 7 64 machine and all of the 64 bit 3rd party plugins built for it. Hey, I dig my iPhone, my iPad, my MB Pro and my iMac so Apple has done a lot of things right but the one thing I don’t think anyone should get used to is Steve Jobs arrogance about what people “should” and “should not” want and need. Just the fact that he said “his iPad” will replace the personal PC shows his arrogance. It won’t replace anything until you at least add USB/Firewire ports for outside connectivity at the very least Stevie. Anyway, if you want mid level “pro” applications then keep defending Apple’s mediocre software and if you want to get onboard with the rest of the pro industry then look into Avid or CS5.5 for film and video. FCP is dead for video. Pro Tools isn”t bad for audio but honestly, I prefer Reaper and Nuendo now too (better stability and audio engines not to mention all of the plugins that “just work” with Reaper and Nuendo).

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