Apple is abandoning the professional market

Apple is abandoning the professional market

Summary: Apple appears to be abandoning the professional market in favor of the more lucrative consumer market. And that may actually be a good thing.

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It was bound to happen sooner or later. The arguments, the recriminations, the breakups and reunions. After a long, stormy relationship, it looks like Apple is finally calling it quits with their professional customers.

Apple: It's... it's just not working out. I think it's time we started seeing other people. ProMarket: Was it something I said? I can change! Just tell me what you want! Apple: It's not you, it's me. I just don't love you anymore.

This has been a long time coming. Since the introduction of the iPod, Apple has been targeting the consumer market, rather than the high end professional market. The iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices are all aimed at the consumer market. Business-class hardware such as the Xserve has been discontinued in order to focus on more consumer-oriented hardware.

The OS X operating system has been moving towards a convergence with the simpler iOS operating system; it has been surmised that OS X Lion will be the last iteration of that series of Mac operating systems. That doesn't mean Apple will stop making an OS, but this will likely be the last familiar version before they head off in a new direction.

Recently, there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the latest release of Final Cut Pro. What was originally considered a professional-quality application for video editing had been turned into a basic, toy-like application that no longer supported the capabilities that customers had come to depend upon.

(Side note to Joe Wilcox of Betanews: Don't berate the customers for being dissatisfied. They have every right to be. Acting like a fanboi spouting that Apple can do no wrong and that they're acting like spoiled children is a good way to alienate those faithful Apple users who are simply unhappy with the company's business decisions that affect them and their work.)

It's actually pretty obvious where Apple was going with this. The professional market is much smaller than the consumer market, and the price tag of Final Cut Pro 7 was thre times more than that of the new Final Cut Pro X. A lower-priced application aimed at a much larger market segment would result in increased profits for Apple. I may dislike Apple, but that's just good business sense. To their credit, Apple did take the time to respond to some of the critics' issues with the new version.

However, what they have done actually leaves the door open for companies like Adobe to come in and fill the gap left by the absence of a complete professionally-oriented video editing application for the Apple platform. What they should have done is what Adobe did with their Photoshop line: make a low-end application like Photoshop Elements aimed specifically at the consumer market, and continued to develop the full version of Final Cut Pro for the pro market.

I don't presume to know what the decision process was behind this. Purely speculating, it's quite possible that Apple simply decided it wasn't worth the effort to support both market segments. As we've seen, Apple is moving further away from the professional market and focusing more on consumer products. Aiming at the pro market segment involves more man-hours of work for a lower return of the investment.

This isn't necessarily bad for the professional market. It opens up opportunities for companies like Adobe to come in and fill the high-end gaps. It also provides renewed growth for companies like Microsoft to develop future generations of the Windows operating system geared towards high-end workstation hardware.

If you look at it that way, Apple leaving the professional market segment behind actually creates opportunity and growth capabilities for the vacuum they leave behind. That's a new one on me--when was the last time you heard Apple doing something that wasn't intended to crush competition? I'm not sure what things will look like a few years from now, but I like where it's heading.

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Software

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  • Scott, Scott

    Actually, you support the hypothesis that Apple can do no wrong.

    The former Final Cut Pro (FCP) was considered the best program in its category for many people (if I'm not mistaken it had the larger market share as well). Yes, even better than Adobe software. I never used Final Cut Pro, but after playing with Adobe Premiere, I suspect why. That program's UI is (was in 2009) awful. I ended up using Sony Vegas 9 for x64. Now, with the all powerful and widespread FCP being hailed by almost everybody and with its winning market share, Apple was praised of course. Not to mention how profitable it seemed to be.

    Now, it is praised by you because it got rid of that successful program?

    Gee, praised if they develop the all powerful, successful and profitable FCP and praised it they ditch it. In other words, Apple can do no wrong.

    Besides, your argument is flawed. Apple already had iMovie for the consumer market. So, your analysis looks very wrong to me.
    nomorebs
    • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

      @nomorebs I think his argument was that Apple should make a logic express style version of final cut alongside imovie, just as they make logic pro, logic express, and garage band. Instead of dumbing down the interface, they should split it off into a cheaper, simpler program for more casual users.
      nickswift498
      • Message has been deleted.

        Mr. Dee
      • Do you mean Final Cut Express?

        @nickswift498

        Because that was Apple's "one step up" from iMovie. Now FCP is at a price point that serious consumer and prosumer editors can afford the suite.
        RationalGuy
      • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

        @nickswift498 I am not sure why you got that idea. Please re read his post. What you say sounds to me as a different argument
        nomorebs
      • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

        @nickswift498 There was a Final Cut Express, for the same price as the current FCP X.
        Champ_Kind
    • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

      @nomorebs

      Oh the poor Windows professionals, having so much choice ;-) I prefer Sony Vegas to Adobe Premiere, but professionals can choose from a variety of powerful video production suites in Windows.

      Never really liked FCP and running on a Mac was also a nono (I prefer cheaper and more powerful hardware). Glad to see my decision was proved right.
      tonymcs@...
      • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

        @tonymcs@... It has nothing to do with Windows professionals having choice or not. I was questioning Scott's argument, that's all. I am personally not affected by Apple's decision about FCP, and I am not a video editing professional. <br><br>Not sure why brought the issue about Windows. Sounds off topic
        nomorebs
      • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

        @nomorebs@...
        tonymcs brought up the issue of windows because he doesn't know how to do anything else. He is well known for bashing anything not from Redmond and pointing out his own perception of why Windows is always the "better" choice. I think his handel should actually be tony<b>mcse</b> or some such.
        use_what_works_4_U
      • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

        @tonymcs@...
        So glad to some people think like i do, my issue with all apple VS PC products has never been if one was better or worse then the other, it has always just been VALUE!!
        bsmi021@...
      • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

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    • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

      @nomorebs I think you need to re-read the article. I acknowledged that Apple angered their customers by rewriting FCP from the ground up and leaving a great deal of functionality out of the finished product. Personally I think what they did was reprehensible, but Apple is not known for doing what the customers want, only what Steve wants.

      That being said, I can understand how it's justified from a purely business perspective, and I approve of it because it leaves a window open for another company to fill the gap left by the absence of a high-end version of FCP.

      You are correct that Apple also has iMovie. Which kind of begs the question: since iMovie already exists, what does the new FCPX provide that can't be accomplished with iMovie? Why would anyone bother with FCPX if they needed more functionality than it provides, or if iMovie provided all of their needs?
      Scott Raymond
      • &quot;... only what Steve wants&quot;

        @Scott Raymond

        This is so disingenuous and oversimplistic, it borders on stupid. Apple doesn't do what the customer wants when the customer just wants to sit on their fat behind and never move beyond old technology. I'd rather those kinds of radical forceful moves than having to wallow in legacy support for over a decade.
        RationalGuy
      • There may be a bigger picture strategy here...

        @Scott Raymond

        I was blown away by the fact that FCPX wS intro'ed at NAB and was essentially laughed at by most of broadcast post community because they took it out of the workflows that it formerly worked well with before (Namely Avid).

        I do see however how Apple may be looking to create their own ecosystem of support apps with this version of FCPX; compressor for example now extends the codecs available for output. Sapphire is not compatible with FCP, which represents a serious blow to the special effects industry's use of the new version until something new or updated takes its place.

        In short, I still think this was a major gaffe for Apple, but in the end, they may be running the same playbook they have with iPhone, iPad and everything else Apple; closed ecosystem.
        dcristof
      • Message has been deleted.

        sportmac
      • Message has been deleted.

        sportmac
    • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

      @nomorebs FCPX blows and is lacking some key professional features, such as backwards compatibility with previous versions of FCP. That's a show stopper. FCP7 is great software, every videographer (and I know several who do it professionally) I know uses it (plus some other video editing software), they all hate FCPX and are extremely pissed off.
      snoop0x7b
    • RE: Apple is abandoning the professional market

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  • As you said, &quot;that&acirc;??s just good business sense.&quot;

    As an Apple shareholder, can't argue with that. Apple has made very few business missteps recently, and I'm betting the FCP X decision isn't one.
    Userama
    • Agree; also, the title of this post is misleading since Apple is not ...

      @Userama: ... abandoning professional market. Actually, Oscar-winning film editors praise the new FCPX.

      However, TV editors are totally different story; they have different needs (projects import/export, dragging old tape operations, working with tens of cameras, exchanging projects -- <b>none of which is needed for feature film editing</b>).
      DDERSSS