Each year at the NAB Conference, the Final Cut Pro User Group holds a SuperMeet of FCP user groups around the world. It's an unofficial event, in that it's not officially part of the NAB schedule, but it's become known as the signature event for Final Cut users each year. Apple has participated in the event from time to time, but has never been the primary sponsor, and isn't listed as a sponsor for this year's event.
Yesterday, a flurry of rumors broke out about last-minute changes at this year's SuperMeet. Official sponsors of the SuperMeet, including AJA, Autodesk, Avid, Blackmagic Design and Canon, received notices from the event organizers that their presentations were being canceled. Presenters such as director Kevin Smith and DSLR cinematographer Philip Bloom were "uninvited". The SuperMeet webpage deleted a list of all the presenters and presentations, and substituted the following: "The Final Cut Pro User Group Network is excited to have a very special guest presentation at the 10th Annual Las Vegas FCPUG SuperMeet. Come to see a surprise sneak peek at something very special - you really do not want to miss this one!". That's it.
Word began to leak out that Apple plans to use the event to announce its new version of Final Cut Studio, and had demanded that the organizers drop all the other presenters and sponsors from the event. Neither Apple nor the event organizers are saying anything about the changes in the schedule, but it's fairly clear that the SuperMeet will serve as Apple's launch event.
You may ask why Apple didn't just schedule its own event, which it could have completely controlled. The problem is that Apple isn't an exhibitor at NAB, and many conferences (most likely including NAB) have contracts with the hotels that house attendees that prohibit them from making space available for events run by non-exhibitors. Since just about every hotel of any size is offering space through NAB's housing office, that would make them unable to host an Apple event. On the other hand, the SuperMeet organizers are also exhibitors, so they can do whatever they want with their event.
My problem with the whole thing is how the SuperMeet's sponsors are being treated. These are companies that have spent a good deal of money, both this year and in previous years, sponsoring SuperMeet events around the world. They were flying in presenters and paying their fees and expenses, and they were looking forward to having access to the SuperMeet's audience. Now, only a week before NAB, they've all been "kicked to the curb" by the SuperMeet's organizers.
If I were a sponsor, I would think twice (or more than twice) about sponsoring future SuperMeet events. The SuperMeet's organizers have said that sponsors' money, support and loyalty aren't worth as much as the opportunity to host the launch of a new Apple product. That, to me, is a bad bargain for everyone involved.