Who's Accountable?

Posted on by Larry

Like many of you, I’ve been losing sleep this last week trying to figure out what’s going to happen to my business after the debacle of the Final Cut Pro X launch.

I read in a blog last night that Steve Jobs has gotten involved in this mess and that “really great things will be happening really soon.”

So my first question is: “Why does Steve Jobs need to get directly involved in what is essentially a straight-forward upgrade to one of their well-established products?”

And this led me to a bigger thought: “Who’s Accountable?”

As I woke up this morning, I had a day-dream of Phil Schiller, VP of Worldwide Marketing, appearing on my podcast, the Digital Production Buzz, to answer questions from listeners.

(In reality, this will never happen. Apple stopped giving on-the-record interviews, with the exception of Mr. Jobs, many years ago.)

So, imagining that Mr. Schiller were on the program, here are the questions I would ask:

1. What was the benefit to Apple of immediately canceling Final Cut Studio (3) with the release of a brand-new and untested product; when there was no technical reason (according to Apple) to do so?

2. Why did Apple feel it was necessary to alienate one of their most passionate fan bases with this release; were professional users that expendable?

3. What responsibility does Apple have when canceling a product to companies that built businesses around those products in terms of notification and support?

4. Conversely, what does Apple require of its vendors, when a supplier to Apple decides to modify a manufacturing method?

5. What is the benefit to Apple for assuming a strict rule of silence whenever something goes wrong? (A short period for research is understandable, but not when it stretches for weeks. The number one rule of PR is communication – but, apparently, not for Apple.)

6. Conversely, what would Apple’s reaction be if one of its vendors, say FoxConn, refused to talk to Apple when something went wrong, such as an explosion?

7. Why is Apple unwilling to provide a general roadmap to those products it considers “professional”?

8. Conversely, what would Apple’s reaction be if Intel refused to tell it about new chips it was developing?

9. Trust is a very tricky thing. It takes time to create and can be destroyed in an instant. Does Apple perceive the extent to which it has breached this trust and what will Apple do to recover from it?

Not one of these questions deals with the features of a product. They deal with the moral character of a company.

As consumers, we are held accountable through license agreements, laws, and regulation.

But who holds corporations accountable?

The sad part is that no one holds corporations accountable. We will never learn these answers. And the damage that’s been done will be irreparable.


66 Responses to Who's Accountable?

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  1. David says:


    I would greatly support you in any efforts to begin training on Premier Pro and After Effects. Apple might eventually come to see the light of day but in my opinion they have broke trust with the most hard core supporters of their professional editing products. Adobe has never let their users down over the years. In my opinion Adobe has equivalent software to Final Cut 7 and more all running with the horsepower and expanded memory of the 64 bit world.

    I would think Apple would be ashamed of what they have done to the professional editing world and those who have completely built their business around their products. Even if Apple finely does come to see the light of what the professional customer wants they would never be able to deliver a stable product in a reasonable period of time. The other side is I am not willing to purchase a kludge of 3rd part plug-in products just to make the product function as it should have in the first place. Just think how long it took for them to release Final Cut X then you can imagine how long it will take them to fix it to the standard that professionals expect. (it won’t happen)

    I suspect Adobe is the best solution that offers the power and features that most of us are looking for in a seamless workflow through all their products. I realize that there is going to be a new workflow to learn but I would rather do it with a trustworthy corporation rather than one who shrouds themselves in secrecy. I encourage you to continue supporting Final Cut X hobbyists but please consider picking up and supporting the Adobe products in your training and discussions.

  2. Theo Goon says:

    Thanks for that, Larry – I take your point, and appreciate your honest response. I guess the point is, if we don’t know enough, maybe we should hold off for a while. I’ve a feeling I know which way this one is going to go… but then we all know so much more than we did a few weeks ago.

  3. Andrew Howe says:

    Hi Larry

    I decided to take a little step back from the world of NLE’s and their functionality and compare the launch to another piece of software close to my heart that is firmly in the corporate rather than the creative field. You may find it interesting http://endeavouruk.squarespace.com/journal/2011/7/12/a-tale-of-two-softwares.html. But then again, if I found it interesting, I wouldn’t spend so much time playing with cameras and NLE’s 😉

  4. Derek Malier says:

    Just received a news blurb on FCP X from Apple which confirms that Apple has officially no idea.

    “Editing, sound and colour. Together in one app.

    Final Cut Pro X includes the key sound editing and colour grading features from Final Cut Studio, so now you can use a single application for the entire post-production workflow. For even more power, use Motion for motion graphics and Compressor for advanced encoding.”

    Yes, that’s right – I’m going to drop an established post-production workflow for doing it all in a half-baked X, even though I can’t preview on a broadcast monitor, not to mention the audio post processing inadequacies …

    It’s just one insult after another.

  5. Rich Gehron says:

    Let me quickly say that I have been a fan of DPBUZZ for a while now, but only just recently did I download one of your tutorials (on Compressor). In 5 minutes I learned 3 new things about how to better use that program. Fantastic tutorial. If I find the need to get some training on FCP X, you will be the first person I go to – no doubt.

    As for Apple…I am beginning to think that they actually did take the “long view” on this product launch. Perhaps a much longer view than most of the editing community. When they announced that they built FCPX for the “next generation” of editors, that certainly sounds like good business strategy, if it is a bit insulting to the “current generation” of editors. Buy it really hit me with your #3 question above about companies that have built business around the product. The very first company that built a business around Final Cut was Apple. It’s apparent that they did not see a viable business future around this product in its current incarnation. The more I learn about FCPX, the more I begin to see the future editing landscape as Apple sees it.

    With a depressed economy limping along and the continued democratization of video (via more affordable products), the number of large high-end post houses will continue to dwindle. Producers are are asked to do more with less and editors are being asked to do..well, just more! Take a step down from the Hollywood movie model and all those separate jobs (edit, sound mix, VFX, color grade…) start getting piled into fewer and fewer laps. By integrating the best (or most often used) tools from various disciplines into the main application, Apple is paving the way for an editing SuperApp for the “All-In-One” editor. I expect to see more of this kind of consolidation in future versions of FCPX.

    This product is squarely aimed at the small business (1-9 employees). Yes, there will be some “prosumers” that might take the leap and try their hand at becoming a true professional with FCPX, but I see Apple trying to capture more of an ever splintering professional market. When powerhouse post companies like The Orphanage (mostly VFX,but still a good example) close their doors, it leaves a lot of skilled people suddenly finding themselves “freelancers”. With the new pricing structure of FCP, those freelancers can become their own small businesses. Throw FCPX on a Macbook Pro alongside After Effects (or any other app you happen to be very skilled at) and you are suddenly a one man (or woman) production house. Go find your own clients and be the master of your own destiny instead of waiting for the next “big job” to come along and give you a smaller piece of a shrinking pie.

    Of course this kind of one man/small company operation is already very prolific in most of the smaller markets across the US and the world. These are the people that are going to transition first and most easily to FCPX. And if Apple is right about the future, there’s going to be a whole lot more of them.

    The one thing that truly baffles me, though, is the multi-seat license debacle. If Apple is placing a foothold in the future, many of its future customers are going to come out of University media programs. If they can’t install multiple seats in a computer lab from a single license, they are gonna switch and Apple could lose big.

    But all of this, as Larry so eloquently put it, has nothing to do with the real reason we are all upset: Apple’s terrible communication strategy with its current user base. Apple made the mess and it is going to have to clean it up. Who knows, Larry, maybe there’s a job for you at Apple as the official liaison between the company and the FCP User community. Though I suspect the job will have to come with a great life insurance policy and maybe a suit of armor…

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