Why I Don't Believe the Rumors

Posted on by Larry

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 Second, Final Cut’s user interface is written entirely (or darn near entirely) in Carbon, a soon-to-be-outdated programming language.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.

7 Responses to Why I Don't Believe the Rumors

  1. Floh says:

    Not sure why FCP would need a tweak to run on Intel only, since it is running on Intel and PPC fine right now. I don´t think it is extra work NOT to support an architecture anymore.
    And Carbon still will be supported on 10.6. The only thing that is not supported is 64 bit calls under Carbon. So if your app needs to access 64bit memory you need to rework that part of the application that needs to address the larger memory in Cocoa; the fact that (supposedly) the Finder got a rewrite in Cocoa does not mean that Carbon apps will stop working under 10.6

  2. david bogie says:

    The fun of predicting Apple’s product releases has been diminished neither by time nor the documented success/failure records of the rumor sites which, at the best, are no better than guessing.

    Speculating about Apple;’s products is an entertaining hobby that has no rewards.
    So is reading the rumors.


  3. Steve says:

    Hi Larry,
    I can see your logic but it’s not what I want to hear! I’m running FCS V1 and have been holding out for FCS V3. I desperately want a few of the features in FCS V2+ like Prores 422, the ‘drop anything in it’ timeline and Color . . . .

    Should I wait another 4 or 5 months for FCS 3 or bite the bullet and go to FCS2 then upgrade soon.

    Any idea what the cost penalty is likely to be for doing this?

    Appreciate your valuable opinion.


    PS – Love the Buzz BTW

    Steve: Thanks for writing!

    Apple won’t announce upgrade pricing until the new version ships, so I can’t help there.

    The best advice on whether to upgrade now or later is whether the current version can help you get work done, or make money, now. If it can, then upgrade. If this is more of an intellectual exercise, then wait.

    ProRes is one of the biggest in FCS 2 — that, and Motion templates. However, from an interface and editing point of view, FCS1 and FCS2 are very, very similar.

  4. tim says:

    Excellent points Larry.

  5. Gert says:

    I think Apple would do it right by introducing a 32 bit version of the new Final Cut Studio to provide the old users. At the same time they could show a demo of the 64 bit version. Just to the customers dreaming again. Rising their appetite for new hardware.
    The new hardware is out….Snow Leopard next and then the 64 bit Version of FCP can follow. (Free for people who already got the 32 bit version and after that Snow Leopard).
    In that way I believe Apple will keep everyone happy and help their customers the transition to 64 bits.
    Newtek took these steps with Lightwave 3D and others too….who knows what’s going to happen. I’m happy to be part of this time

  6. Hame says:

    I really don’t like the idea that the next FCS will be intel only.

    I currently use Both Motion 3 and After effects CS3 at work using a Quad Core G5 which (apart from not being able to run windows is a perfectly decent machine)

    I am angry at Adobe for making cs4 intel only, but I honestly don’t like after effects enough to care.

    Motion however… is the app that compelled me to buy my G5 in the first place. and I would be very annoyed if I was expected to shell out another 5 Grand upgrading my machine just to use the new version of it.

    I’m sure i’m not the only person who thought their G5 might last just a tad longer than it appears it will.

    – – –


    I don’t know what the next version of FCS will be. However, Apple has announced that OS X 10.6 – the operating system – will be Intel-only.


  7. Jeff Handy says:

    Hame, I understand your point. You have to look at the long term commitment that Apple made with Final Cut. If they don’t optimize for new hardware they are, by default, selling their new system buyers short. Technology has always been a cat and mouse game – always. Remember when Apple decided to stop putting floppy drives on their computers? Apple leads and others follow. They will always be pushing the envelope and will continue to lead the industry as they always have. Perhaps you will also remember when they went from 030 chips to PPC? Same kind of gig.

    That said, if you like the functionality you get currently and it ends up you need a newer system to upgrade FCS, you have a choice. You can keep what you have and not upgrade, or you can buy a new computer and get the upgrade. But as Larry points out, no one in the general public knows yet what’s going to happen with the new Final Cut Studio. We’ll have to wait and see, then we can react. I personally hope they have something to announce by NAB time. Ciao!

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