Earlier today, I was reading some rumor sites speculating that Apple may be releasing a new version of Final Cut Studio at a media event on March 24.
I don’t think these rumors are true and wanted to share my thinking with you so you can decide yourself.
First, a very important point: Apple HAS NOT told me what they are doing. In fact, they have not even dropped any hints in my direction. If they had told me, it would violate our agreement for me to even tell you that I know what they are doing. I don’t know — this blog is simply my thinking about the situation Apple finds itself in.
Let’s look at where Final Cut stands today. The last major upgrade was two years ago, with a series of minor upgrades over the last 18 months. So, Final Cut is due for a significant upgrade sometime this year.
However, the current version of the operating system is 10.5.x. Apple has already announced that a brand new, optimized, OS 10.6 will be out this year. Why would Apple make a major release of Final Cut Studio to support an operating system that is about to be replaced? While no one knows when 10.6 will be released, March strikes me as a poor time when Apple could wait a couple of months and release it, with great fanfare, to all their developers at the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) later this spring. There’s nothing going on in March that is so compelling as to force Apple to release the OS early.
The new OS will have, according to Apple, an entirely re-engineered version of QuickTime (QuickTime X) in it. Since Final Cut and QuickTime have been conjoined since birth, this means that Apple would have to make two major FCS releases: one to support the version of QuickTime current in March, and a second major release to support QuickTime X released with OS 10.6. Apple is a huge company with vast development resources, but two major releases in the same year for Final Cut Studio don’t make any sense to me.
As well, two new features in OS X 10.6 are also relevant: 1. Snow Leopard will only run on Intel/Macs, and 2. It only uses Cocoa in its user interface. The impact of these two statements on Final Cut is profound.
First, because Final Cut runs on both PowerPC and Intel systems, it will need to be significantly tweaked to run Intel-only. Second, Final Cut’s user interface is written entirely (or darn near entirely) in Carbon, a soon-to-be-outdated programming language. Both of these statements mean that for the last couple of years, Apple’s developers have been very, VERY busy re-programming almost every line of code in the application to convert the application to support Cocoa and Intel. This is a HUGE project, affecting millions of lines of code. The process of getting the bugs out will be lengthy. To do all this work, simply to release a “temporary major release” in March doesn’t make sense.
So the reason I tend to think we won’t see a Final Cut Studio release in March — or April, for that matter — is that there is no benefit to Apple to release a new version of Final Cut until after the new version of Snow Leopard (10.6) is out. Releasing a new version now, means Apple would need to release a second major update in a couple of months.
While Apple has the ability to do this, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when trying to allocate development resources.
So, if you want my opinion of what is going to happen — AND REMEMBER, NO ONE HAS TOLD ME ANYTHING – I think we will see Snow Leopard in June and a shipping version of Final Cut Studio in July.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. As always, let me know what you think.
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