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Apple posts a Final Cut Pro X FAQ, but why did it take so long?

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Apple (s aapl) has apparently decided that the poor reception of Final Cut Pro X by many professional video editors isn’t going away on its own, and has released a special FAQ page to address commonly voiced concerns about its editing software. Arguably, it’s a step Apple should have taken before the FCP X release, not once opinion is starting to galvanize against it.

As digital media consultant and Final Cut expert Larry Jordan notes, Apple botched this launch. It did so by not recognizing that change, especially major change to a platform essential to how people make a living, often isn’t welcomed with open arms. That doesn’t mean Apple should just stick with what’s comfortable and give FCP customers a slightly tweaked version of what they already had. But it does mean it should have done a better job of anticipating sore spots for pros making the move to FCP X, and provided transition aids to make those changes less jarring — like the FAQ that arrived Wednesday, for instance.

The FAQ also reveals where Apple missed the mark with FCP X, and where it still needs to address concerns. It addresses some complaints, like the ability to support multi-cam editing, XML export, and audio track exporting, by promising the features will arrive in future updates. If these are big enough pain points to address now, however, it likely means they would have been relatively easy to anticipate and prepare for prior to release.

The FAQ describes other issues as things third-party add-ons should — and will — handle. It’s true that third-party developers need some time to cope with a new release, but again, it seems like Apple missed a trick by not making better use of its closed beta program to head these complaints off by working more closely with third-party devs.

The biggest issue many editing pros will probably have with this FAQ is that Apple doesn’t plan to offer project importing from FCP 7 to FCP X. It’s the first question Apple addresses, and it’s a complaint I’ve seen often. Apple says “there is no way to ‘translate’ or bring in old projects without changing or losing data,” due to FCP X’s completely redesigned project architecture and trackless editing. This may be one of the biggest problems for editors going forward, even after other issues are addressed with updates and third-party plugins.

I still think the strength of the reaction to FCP X has a lot to do with the shock of encountering a dramatically different program than people are used to, but there’s no doubt that Apple overestimated the willingness of users to jump on board a new way of doing things. If Apple had already identified problems like multi-cam support during the limited beta, it should have delayed the FCP X release until fixes were ready. And if it didn’t, it needs to rethink how it approached pre-release testing and who was included, since it seems like it might have been an excessively approving crowd.

10 Responses to “Apple posts a Final Cut Pro X FAQ, but why did it take so long?”

  1. c nelson

    Yeah, I’m curious about what’s really going on. There’s no sane organization on the planet that would intentionally structure itself the way Apple has organically aggregated. Apple has too many employees for such a top-heavy, micromanaged corporate culture — if it’s actually going to produce quality stuff. It’s not the spaceship-like building, really, what’s required, is a massive power structure framework that is more diversified in its accountability, so there’s essentially more brains, more accountable brains paying attention to any and all opportunities to provide value to customers.

    I’m beginning to wonder if this isn’t actually a sad situation, not an intentional FU. A situation that is sad because there really is no power structure framework in that company. No one actually intentionally meant it to be a FU, but it ended up being one because of the corporate culture there.

    So that’s really it, perhaps one could think of it like a scaffolding or something, a scaffolding of responsibility and authority that is less top down and more bottom up, a more decentralized power structure.

    Apple has a lot of employees, it has a lot of fans, and it has an incredible position on this planet in many ways. But what’s happening here with FCP X is SAD more than anything. It’s depressing. Such a huge success story, yet unable to hold it together in some crucial ways.

    It’s sad, is what it is. The product is sweet, but there needs to be a framework in place that prevents these sorts of unintentional oversights. It’s sad that this could possible even become and oversight, you know?

    Apple needs help.

  2. James Katt

    “but why did it take so long?”

    It took only a week.

    It is the people who are impatient that have the problem.

    When you look at past history, when problem occur, Apple always takes its time to get its response correct. Apple NEVER knee-jerks a response. Apple NEVER impulsively responds.

    So many people are impatient. It is the modern internet attitude of instant gratification.

    But knee jerking a wrong response can have big consequences.

    It is far better to do it the Apple Way:
    1. Carefully consider and comprehensively investigate the problem.
    2. Carefully develop the best answer.
    3. Respond only when you are ready.

    • This isn’t about the response time concerning normal bugs and oversights in a new product release. This is about major changes and blatant omissions that Apple KNEW about throughout development. They simply arrogantly believed that everyone would embrace their revolutionary ideas. Their hubris is exemplified in the fact they discontinued FCP7. The simple fact is, many users and companies cannot change entire workflows and practices overnight, yet Apple gave no other option but to do so. Then, their temporary “fix” is to use a product they officially refuse to support?

      There is no way a company that considers things from their customers’ perspectives would’ve allowed this to become a problem in the first place. There would have been pre-release notices, guides to help with the transition, and continued support for FCP7 (if only for a certain period of time-either set date or “until x features are implemented in FCPX). So, the “why so long” is really more like weeks plural if not months, not a single week.

  3. Who initially found this link to Apples answers to our FAQ? I can’t seem to locate a link to it anywhere else on Apples website. You would think Apple would want people to find this page, or maybe not? If anyone else see’s a link to it anywhere on Apples website, please let me (us) know. Thanks.

  4. There was a time when Apple was concerned with and listened to Mac users. those days are gone and now Apple arrogantly tells its users that big brother knows best.

    Lack of matte screen options are still a sore point with many. The latest dictum from on high “Thou Shalt Download All New Software.”
    They just don’t care about user problems anymore unless the complaints start hitting the news and become embarrassing.

  5. You’d think a company as savvy as Apple would take this as a PR disaster … and therefore, mobilize an all out effort to really discuss these issues with a variety of stakeholders for the sake of the long-term business.

    Of course as stated in several places, it could be an effort to consolidate the product AND just say that “we think editing video is now a commodity thing” and our software effort here is saying that … we’ve figured out that what helps Apple is to now help consumers do video versus the market share of pro’s.” They could be right.

    But why not be smart enough to tackle the issue head on and create a day where you make that market-driven case and show the software for what it is and isn’t in advance.

    That would have be sensitive, smart and best of all, kind.

    It’s really hard to not say … Apple, you acted dumb.

    the land of mac learning

  6. This is pretty much a typical Apple response window. They release a product, sit back for a week or two while they ruminate over that products response, and then address any issue(s) directly and succinctly.

    While I only make a portion of my income doing video work, I wasn’t upset by Apple taking the appropriate amount of time to assess the biggest complaints and put together this FAQ to (hopefully) help alleviate some of the tension. Its literally only been a week, but probably it felt longer because of the hundreds of complaint articles and videos.

  7. Those few 10,000 people (more like half a million or more) embraced Apple pre-iPod/iPhone. Many of them helped evangelize for Apple during a critical time for the company. Why would you kill off a loyal base for a potential base of less-enthused, less-talented people?

    It’s like Wilco deciding to write Nickelback post-grunge songs about partying and sex for their next album and expecting their fans to be ok with it. Sure, they’d make more money in the short term, but they’d lose a dedicated long-term base that does more free marketing for them than you can put a price on.

    It wouldn’t shock me if you start to see PCs and/or more android devices popping up in commercials and movies now as a retaliation “f*** you” to Apple. Not a smart move… Not smart.

  8. Rob Crawford

    Why did it take so long? So they could figure out which questions qualified as “frequently asked”. An “FAQ” that is released with the software is a marketing document, not a user document.

  9. “but why did it take so long?”

    Because the Apple way is always to look forward, and if a few tens of thousand of people are inconvenienced… well, no matter. :)

    A good friend of mine at Apple once said that during the PowerPC-Intel transition something that I think still holds true: “We’re essentially a marketing firm that has only one client – ourselves. We’ll only respond to negativity if it gets out of hand.” Quite telling.