The Pro App Paradox (Part 1) REVISITED

Writer’s note: Let’s look back at what I had to say about Apple abandoning the pro market almost eight years later.

In his most recent newsletter Larry Jordan attempts to quell the hysteria around the “Apple is abandoning the Pro market” rumors with the following argument:

Now, let us assume that Apple decides to abandon Final Cut – or not upgrade it – or sell it – or in some other way give it up.

That means that other companies – OUTSIDE of Apple’s control – will have primary responsibility for editing video and other media. There’s nothing to prevent these other companies from inventing codecs that don’t run on iDevices. Or redesign their editing software so that it doesn’t support Macs. … The only company that has a permanently vested interest in keeping Macs successful is Apple – and as their recent financials indicated, they are selling more Macs than ever before.

I don’t agree with this reasoning. The tools to create the movie Avatar are very different than the tools to watch it. Watching Avatar requires an iPad.  Creating it requires an awesome set of tools and a small army. By killing Shake years ago Apple essentially abandoned their only chance of playing even a small role in high-end cutting-edge productions. But perhaps this example is a little too extreme.

The tools to create The Real World are very different than the tools to watch The Real World. A show like The Real World requires either an army of loggers and a highly collaborative post production infrastructure.

Writer’s note: in retrospect this post proved to be amazingly prescient. I choose ‘The Real World’ because Bunim Murray was the face of a successful Final Cut Pro implementation for years. It was news when they dropped FCP and returned to Avid in 2012.

Final Cut Pro, Xsan, and Final Cut Server were supposed to be the holy-trinity of the Apple collaborative post production workflow. Say whatever you want, but yesterday Apple effectively killed the infrastructure component of the mythical collaborative workflow.

Two Mac Pros shelf mounted in 12RU’s of space does not equal 2 rack mounted Xserves with LOM and total redundancy.  And again, people spending $50k or $100k or more want to make sure they’re making a long term investment. Xsan suddenly looks a lot less attractive.

Suddenly post production understands the adage, “nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM.” An integrated Avid solution end-to-end is certainly better then a mixed solution.

Amateurs and Soccer Moms will create content for their iPads with iMovie on their iMacs. But the future of professional editing is collaboration. Make no mistake, Apple has abandoned its future in collaborative post.

Writer’s note: I cringe thinking about my statement “Amateurs and Soccer Moms” because it comes off as disparaging, which it wasn’t meant to be. Apple brilliantly captured the power of enabling ‘Soccer Moms’ to create family memories in their absolutely touching 2013 Christmas commercial. And in retrospect, the power (and money) that top social media influencers wield is enviable to many struggling artists in Hollywood. But what I was trying to get at is the fact that creating motion pictures on par with ‘Avatar’ or ‘The Real World’ requires tools that Apple is no longer interested in making.

In Part 2 I will explain why this is a good thing.

Note: Revisited September 26, 2018.