Sunday, June 26, 2011

FCPX Part 3: The backfire

I didn't want to write another post about Apple's Final Cut Pro X debacle (I really, truly didn't), but I've reached my irritation limit. Let's be frank: Apple blew it, but not necessarily for how FCPX turned out. Rather, it blew it by:
  1. Not fully communicating just how much of a departure FCPX is from FCP 7, and not educating users to see it as version 1.0 of an entirely new platform,
  2. Not anticipating how vehement user reaction would be to key missing features, such as the inability to import FCP 7 projects, no multicam capabilities, and the lack of any facilities for getting audio and EDLs from FCPX to and from other applications, and
  3. Not keeping Final Cut Studio 3 available for sale while Apple and third-parties worked to bring FCPX up to functional parity with FCP 7.
As I said, Apple blew it, but the reaction by users and resellers is completely out of proportion to the problem. There is absolutely nothing keeping existing FCP users from continuing to use their current copies of FCP. If it worked for you last Monday, it will still work for you today. Multiple sources indicate that FCP 7 will work fine on Lion, the new version of OSX that will be released next month. Moving to any other editing platform is going to entail a learning curve.

The enormous reaction, for a product that represents a minute fraction of Apple's revenues, suggests to me that there's something more at work here than simple customer dissatisfaction. For example, Adobe started looking for "Premiere Pro ambassadors" just prior to the launch of FCPX. Call me paranoid, but I have to suspect that Apple's competitors are encouraging the firestorm, even to the point of offering talking points to bloggers and tweeters. I have no evidence that this is happening, but the number of posts and tweets, and their similarity, sound very much like what would be driven by a competitive response team. (I used to run those teams in the past, and I know how they work.) Throw in free "evaluation" copies of software that have valid serial numbers, and you end up with a corps of people who have motivation to keep the pressure on.

The resellers who have been tweeting constantly since last Tuesday, trying to get FCP users to switch to Avid or Apple, have a transparent reason for doing so: They can no longer make any money selling FCP. FCPX will only be sold through the Apple App Store, so resellers and integrators can't make any money selling it. They can continue to sell peripherals that work with FCPX, but they can't make any money on FCPX itself.

The FCPX release has stirred more negative reaction than Microsoft's decision not to support direct Windows XP upgrades to Windows 7. Remember that one? It affected, and still continues to affect, millions of PC users--many times more than the FCP user base--but it didn't get this level of vitriol.

So, I've stopped following the resellers that continue to tweet negative coverage of FCPX and exhort me to buy Avid or Adobe. When Apple gets this resolved, as I'm convinced they will, there's going to be a lot of people with egg on their faces. And, for the record, I've been compensated by no one for this (or any other) post, and I'm not writing from anybody's talking points other than my own. I just wish that a whole bunch of people would grow up.
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