We're coming up on the two-month mark for Apple's Final Cut Pro X. Released in late June, Final Cut Pro X represented a huge departure from previous versions of the software. But in an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream and casual video editor, the company may have alienated a very passionate core group of customers: professional video editors.
Final Cut Pro X Backlash
There are always naysayers & so-called "haters" every time a product or service evolves and changes. Just look at the feedback YouTube and Facebook receive when… well, whenever they roll out even the smallest of redesigns. But while Final Cut Pro X has its fans, there appear to be far more disgruntled users than happy ones.
Here's Ryan Connolly, the host of Film Riot, and his take on the software change:
In case you didn't have time to watch the entire episode, here's one of the more important points Connolly makes about Final Cut Pro X:
"For instance, you can't import Final Cut projects into Final Cut Pro X. Yeah, let me repeat that. You cannot open your old FCP projects into Final Cut Pro X… Now, although it can't import old Final Cut Pro projects, it can import iMovie projects. What? Um… what?! That's like a big middle finger to all professional editors signed 'Apple.' They might as well come to my house and kick me in the wiener."
Connolly's far from alone in this gripe. In fact, incompatibility with previous versions of Final Cut seems to be the single largest complaint professional video editors have.
Dennis Howlett of ZDNet has this to say:
"In the end, Apple has done something I could never have anticipated: it has driven me gratefully into the arms of Adobe Premiere and After Effects, even though that is at much higher cost.
Many colleagues welcome the new FCP-X and that's just fine. But as someone who is aspiring to deliver more than edited home movies, FCP-X doesn't come close to meeting my needs."
The NBC Bay Area website calls it "Apple's Biggest Mistake In Years."
The pair of reviewers at MacGasm.net aren't big fans at all.
And the Washington Post reports that a petition stating "Final Cut Pro X is not a professional application" was signed by over 600 professional video editors within the first week of the software's release.
How widespread is the disdain for Final Cut Pro X? Well, it even got the "Hitler finds out about…" treatment on YouTube (language warning, even in the screenshot apparently):
With over 53,000 views, the video has over 600 "likes" and only 13 "dislikes."
Even consumers are weighing in alongside the professional reviewers. Right now as I write this, there are three Customer Reviews on the iTunes Store page for purchasing Final Cut Pro X. None of them are positive. And I can't find a way to "view all" customer reviews.
Competitors are taking advantage of the backlash as well. In fact, Adobe is actively courting former Final Cut Pro fans with discounted offerings and display ads across the web like this one:
But not every review is full of doom and gloom. PC magazine, for instance says they think even the haters will eventually be won over by the positive attributes of Final Cut Pro X:
"Apple has built a completely new, faster, cleaner, and more intuitive digital video editing package. While some professionals may lament its lack of backward compatibility, we predict they'll eventually be won over by significant speed and usability advances. Meanwhile, prosumer video enthusiasts get a less daunting upgrade path to a pro-level Mac editor."
Does Apple Care About Professional Video Editors?
In the end, it may not matter how many customers are upset about the new Final Cut Pro X or how loudly they complain about it. As former Apple designer, Sachin Agarwal, explains, Apple doesn't really care about the video professional market.
Now, that's a harsh way to state it. What Agarwal really means is that Apple values the broader market far more than any niche. If there are a million professional video editors in the world (and I'm just pulling that out of thing air for the sake of debate), then there are 500 million amateur video editors. And it's that larger group that Apple really wants to hit.
Apple cares more about selling hardware products than software. As I said when discussing rumors that Apple was building their own YouTube competitor:
"I'm used to Apple's software solutions directly supporting their hardware. They make an OS, but it's made to power their computer hardware. They built iTunes, but that was designed to support the iPod… All I'm saying is that usually when I see Apple making software, it's because it directly supports one of their hardware products."
Apple cares more about selling computers, tablets, and phones than selling software. That's probably why you can't get Final Cut Pro on Windows–at least not without some creativity.
It's entirely possible that Apple knew the video editing pros would get upset, but still felt that making Final Cut Pro X more accessible to the mainstream audiences would be a better long term move for the company. It's also entirely possible that they were right.